Mitochondrial donation

Mitochondrial donation is an IVF technique that gives families affected by mitochondrial disease the chance of having healthy children.

It involves taking the DNA out of a woman’s egg that has faulty mitochondria (the ‘batteries’ that give all our cells their energy), and transferring it to a donor egg with healthy mitochondria. 

Our position

We actively support mitochondrial donation and have driven legislative change to ensure this cutting-edge technique can be used in clinics for the benefit of patients. 

As a result of our work, and the work of others, the UK Parliament voted in support of mitochondrial donation in February 2015.

Since October 2015, mitochondrial donation has been licensed and regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for clinical use in the UK. 

Why does mitochondrial donation matter?

  • Approximately 1 in 200 children in the UK are born with faulty mitochondrial DNA. 
  • While many people have mild or no symptoms, around 1 in 6,500 may develop more serious mitochondrial disorders. 
  • In many families, mitochondrial disease affects multiple family members.
  • The disease can occur at a young age and lead to disability and death. Currently there is no cure.

What we’re doing

Exploring the policy issues

For more than a decade, we’ve worked to engage with the public, parliamentarians and others about mitochondrial disease and donation. 

We’ve provided opportunities for people to explore the techniques and their implications through events and communications.

Our partners have included biomedical and social scientists, ethicists and biomedical research and patient charities.

Providing long-term funding

We’ve provided long-term funding to establish and support researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University who pioneered the donation technique.   

We'll continue to consider applications for research funding related to these technologies.

Timeline of key dates

Our timeline sets out the key dates which led to the licensing of mitochondrial donation.


March 2017


December 2016

November 2016

July 2016

June 2016


October 2015

January – February 2015


December 2014 

September 2014 

July 2014 

June 2014 

April 2014 

March 2014 


June 2013 

March 2013 


September 2012

July 2012 

June 2012 

May 2012 






More information

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact Sarah Rappaport


Influencing policy

Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.


Regulation creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish. 

Reports and consultations