A gene-therapy technique that aims to prevent mothers from passing on harmful genes to children through their mitochondria — the cell’s energy-producing structures — might not always work.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy involves swapping faulty mitochondria for those of a healthy donor. But if even a small number of mutant mitochondria are retained after the transfer — a common occurrence — they can outcompete healthy mitochondria in a child’s cells and potentially cause the disease the therapy was designed to avoid, experiments suggest.
“It would defeat the purpose of doing mitochondrial replacement,” says Dieter Egli, a stem-cell scientist at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute who led the work. Egli says that the finding could guide ways to surmount this hurdle, but he recommends that the procedure not be used in the meantime.
The UK government last year legalized mitochondrial replacement therapy, although the country’s fertility regulator has yet to green-light…[ادامه مطلب]