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Mitochondrial Replacement: ethics and identity

Wrigley, A; Wilkinson, S; Appleby, JB


S Wilkinson

JB Appleby


Mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs) have the potential to allow prospective parents who are at risk of passing on debilitating or even life-threatening mitochondrial disorders to have healthy children to whom they are genetically related. Ethical concerns have however been raised about these techniques. This article focuses on one aspect of the ethical debate, the question of whether there is any moral difference between the two types of MRT proposed: Pronuclear Transfer (PNT) and Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST). It examines how questions of identity impact on the ethical evaluation of each technique and argues that there is an important difference between the two. PNT, it is argued, is a form of therapy based on embryo modification while MST is, instead, an instance of selective reproduction. The article's main ethical conclusion is that, in some circumstances, there is a stronger obligation to use PNT than MST.

Acceptance Date Jun 18, 2015
Publication Date Oct 19, 2015
Journal Bioethics
Print ISSN 0269-9702
Publisher Wiley
Pages 631-638
Keywords mitochondrial replacement, genetics, identity, ethics, reproductive technology
Publisher URL