A technique may one day prevent something that is currently unpreventable -- the transmission of mitochondrial diseases from mother to child, according to a proof-of-concept paper published online today (April 14) in Nature.
Blastocyst on day 5 after fertilization
Image: Wikimedia commons, Ekem
The authors swapped the nuclei from one fertilized human egg with the nuclei from another, creating an embryo with nuclear DNA from the donor egg, but mitochondrial DNA primarily from the recipient. They suggest the technique could ultimately prevent the transmission of mitochondrial diseases if doctors moved nuclei from a fertilized egg carrying the disease to another egg with disease-free mitochondria. The results come with major caveats, however. The resulting embryo would carry DNA from three parents, and to prove the technique could work in the clinic, scientists would have to try the technique in healthy human embryos -- a task that would be "impossible" due...
The ScientistL. Craven et al., "Pronuclear transfer in human embryos to prevent transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease," Nature, published online April 14, 2010, doi:10.1038/nature08958.

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