A new approach has been devised to replace defective mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from an egg with healthy mtDNA from a donor, is reported online in Nature. These findings may lead to new preventative therapeutic options for the numerous diseases transmitted through mtDNA.
Cellular mitochondria are crucial to many processes including energy production. However, whereas the nuclear DNA in cells is derived from a combination of both egg and sperm DNA, the mtDNA is almost exclusively from maternal DNA. There are presently over 150 different mtDNA defects known to cause incurable diseases.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues devised a new approach to swap mtDNA in monkey eggs. This method involves removing the nuclear DNA from the egg of one monkey and inserting it into another monkey's egg where the nuclear DNA has been removed, but that retains its mtDNA. The reconstructed eggs produced using this method were successfully fertilized and produced three apparently healthy offspring. The scientists propose that this technique could be used to replace defective mitochondria in IVF procedures.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov (Oregon National Primate Research Center and Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, OR, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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