Leading Australian researchers will receive $15 million from the Morrison Government to determine the safety, efficacy and feasibility of implementing mitochondrial donation reproductive technology following the passing of Maeve’s Law.
Mitochondrial diseases are genetic, often inherited disorders that are debilitating and can be fatal. In Australia, approximately one child each week is born with a severe form of mitochondrial disease, often with a life expectancy of less than five years.
Symptoms can include poor growth, muscle weakness, neurological issues, and developmental delays. To date, there is no known cure for mitochondrial disease. Treatment is typically focused on relieving the symptoms of the disease.
Mitochondrial donation is an in-vitro fertilisation assisted reproductive technology that has the potential to reduce the incidence of children inheriting this devastating and life-threatening disease.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the funding comes off the back of Maeve’s Law, which was passed through the Australian Parliament last week.
“The bravery of not only Maeve, but her family in battling mitochondrial disease is an absolute inspiration,” Minister Hunt said.
“Almost once a week, a family in Australia is told their child has a severe form of mitochondrial disease. The tragedy of this is for these children and their families is that many will pass within the first five years.
“This research will help ensure that young children who would otherwise be born with an inherited genetic condition that could dramatically reduce their lives, instead be able to live a rich, full life.”
The 2022 Mitochondrial Donation Pilot Program Grant Opportunity will support a pilot program that includes a clinical trial that aims to better understand mitochondrial donation reproductive technology.
The outcomes from the grant opportunity will support future government policy decisions regarding broader implementation of mitochondrial donation reproductive technology in Australian clinical practice.
The Grant Opportunity will be managed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the guidelines will be available on Sunday, 10 April 2022.