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Genetic editing can delete deleterious mitochondria

New approach avoids “three-parent” approach to treating DNA disorder

12:01pm, April 23, 2015

HEAVE HO  Mitochondria (blue), energy-producing structures in cells, may get mutations that lead to diseases in people. Researchers have described a new genetic engineering technique that will eliminate mutant mitochondria from eggs and early embryos to prevent mitochondrial diseases from passing from mother to child.

A new genetic engineering technique could help prevent mitochondrial diseases without the ethically sticky “three-parent problem” of another recently developed method.

The three-parent method involves transferring the nucleus of a prospective mother’s egg into a donor egg containing healthy mitochondria in order to replace mutant mitochondria with healthy ones.  

The new gene-editing method, researchers report April 23 in Cell, removes or depletes the number of mutant mitochondria from eggs or early embryos. This approach could keep mitochondrial diseases from being passed from mother to child.

Mitochondrial depletion has advantages over the nuclear transfer technique, says Michio Hirano, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center who wasn’t involved in the study. “You don’t need an egg donor. You don’t need to involve a third party

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