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Preventing mitochondrial disease: What about the patients? [Comment]

Dimond, Rebecca ORCID: 2012. Preventing mitochondrial disease: What about the patients? [Comment]. [Online]. BioNews 678: BioNews. Available at:

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Techniques for the prevention of mitochondrial disease have attracted intense speculation, controversy and excitement. David Willetts, minister for universities and science, highlighted their development as 'an important and potentially life-saving discovery' (BioNews 641). Mary Herbert, professor of reproductive biology at Newcastle University's Centre for Life described them as having the potential to be a 'tremendous help for many hundreds of people' (BioNews 673). As part of my research, conducted at the Economic and Social Research Council's Cesagen, I have spoken to many patients with mitochondrial disease. Their stories highlight considerable variation in how the disease can be experienced. Mitochondrial disease is associated with a wide range of symptoms and levels of severity, and exhibits a complex relationship between physical symptoms and genetic cause. These uncertainties can lead to difficulties in assessing the future health of the potential parents, as well as in estimating reproductive risk and in identifying the extent to which a child will be affected. What this means is that even when a woman is diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, we cannot, nor should not assume that she will opt for IVF assistance.

Item Type: Website Content
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: BioNews
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:57

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