Ukraine has no explicit regulations directly addressing the germline gene editing of embryos for research or clinical purposes. However, a form of germline gene editing is being used in clinics to help women who are infertile have a baby.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), popularly known as ‘three-parent IVF’, was developed to help women avoid having a baby with certain mitochondrial genetic diseases but can also help women whose IVF treatments have failed have a baby. The UK is the only country that has officially approved the procedure.
A fertility doctor in Ukraine reportedly has used MRT in numerous successful births since May 2017. He says he has received approval for a five-year research program from health authorities although he has not registered the trial with the European clinical trial database. The doctor has reportedly worked with patients from Sweden, Britain, Brazil, Israel and perhaps other countries, and is marketing he procedure in the United States, where it is illegal.
In 2002, Ukraine signed the Council of Europe’s Oviedo Convention, which bans interventions and modifications in the human germline and prohibits the creation of human embryos for research, but Ukraine never ratified the treaty.
- Mitochondrial replacement therapy: A fertility doctor in Kyiv, Ukraine reportedly has used MRT, popularly known as ‘three-parent IVF’, in multiple births since 2017.
2002: Council of Europe’s 1997 Oviedo Convention signed, which bans all interventions and modifications in the human germline and the creation of human embryos for research. Ukraine has not ratified the convention.
The US-based Center for Genetics and Society, which is opposed to MRT, has called the doctor’s research program “troubling” and a “slippery slope”. Some scientists, such as Dietrich Egli, a professor of developmental biology at Columbia University Medical Center, have called this work “pioneering”. A U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel concluded in 2015 it could be ethical to attempt the procedure to help women carrying mitochondrial disorders, which can be fatal, to have healthy children, and should be encouraged.
- Genetic Literacy Project’s FAQ on gene editing