March 2024 marked two years since the passing of Maeve’s Law, paving the way for mitochondrial donation in Australia. This article summarises the progress that has been made. Highlights include:

  • National Medical Health and Research Council (NHMRC) has updated ethical guidelines.
  • NHMRC’s Embryo Research Licensing Committee initiated licensing scheme for mitochondrial donation.
  • mitoHOPE has started laboratory work and is designing the pilot program in consultation with the mito community

$15 million for mitoHOPE program

In March 2023, the Australian Government announced $15 million in funding for the mitoHOPE pilot program, led by Monash University. This program is funded by Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). It brings together several partners, including Mito Foundation, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and Monash IVF. Mito Foundation played a key role in designing the program, in consultation with the mito community.

You can read more about mitoHOPE on their website.

NHMRC updated ethical guidelines

Last year, NHMRC updated its guidelines for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including mitochondrial donation. These guidelines cover everything from lab work to clinical use. A member of the mito community was on the committee that updated these guidelines. Mito Foundation made a submission during the consultation on the draft. We aimed to ensure the guidelines reflect the community's needs and aren’t too burdensome for families.

ERLC licensing scheme

The NHMRC has created the mitochondrial donation licensing scheme, overseen by the Embryo Research Licensing Committee (ERLC). Different types of licenses are needed as work moves through preclinical research and training to the clinical trial.

More information about the licensing scheme is available here.

Community engagement

The mitoHOPE team has worked closely with the mito community to shape the pilot program. They’ve gathered feedback on what support intended parents need, focusing on clear communication, peer support, ongoing psychosocial support, and respecting the experiences of those going through mitochondrial donation.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this research, including at the 2022 Mito Community Summit. There will be more opportunities to contribute to mitoHOPE in the future. Please keep an eye on our communications for updates.

Lab work

mitoHOPE has started work in the lab to ensure the safety and efficacy of mitochondrial donation techniques. They’re also training team members to use these techniques. We’re hopeful that by early 2025, they can start enrolling prospective parents.

Resources and support

We have a range of resources and support on reproductive options. These will be useful if you're considering mitochondrial donation. If you have questions or need assistance, reach out through our Helpline.