Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Does that mean the baby will have more "Force?"

In reading my mother in law's NY post, watching the blogs, and Good Morning America I am always amazed by how big a deal the press makes of novel things like a mitochondrial transplant. Which IMHO is still a little suspect.

As I was reading these and getting the Genome Technology Online update, I see the question which Misha and I encountered last Friday. Just because we CAN do it.....

So what's the big deal? Well first let's start by talking about mitochondria. Or as Qui-Gon Jinn would say MidiChlorions. So what are they? They are the powerhouse of our cells. Every cell type has a different number of mitochondria. Some have just one, some have thousands.

There are several different types of mitochondrion in our cells.

What does that mean?

Well, mitochondria have their own DNA. It is different from the DNA in our cell's nucleus. There can be several mitochondira in our cells which have different DNA from other mitochondria. We can actually have mutations in this "other" DNA cause disease in our body as well. Meaning we may have healthy and unhealthy Mitochondria in our cells. Because the mitochondria are ubiquitous in our body their damaged DNA often causes horrible diseases. But often this only happens when there is a critical level of unhealthy mitochondria. This term for variation in disease causing mitochondrial levels is termed heteroplasmy.

The diseases called mitochondrial disorders can be devastating often before adulthood. Blindness, Deafness, heart disease, diabetes, seziures can all be manifestations of mitochondrial diseases.

So what did these researchers from the UK do? The did several mouse studies before proceeding to humans, which is the standard protocol for research. They managed to eliminate mitochondrial disease by boosting t he levels of healthy mitochondria in the embryos of mice.

This was very successful. So they proceeded to humans and now the news and even the Mets discussion boards are covering it. Mom and Dad and Midi-Chlorian donor equals health baby.....we'll see.

The Sherpa Says:

No one has still addressed the pressing question. "Will the force be strong with this one?" IN all seriousness, introducing cytoplasm is bound to give you more than just mitochondria....What about mitochondria transplants to create more athletic muscle fibres? Faster brain cells? I know some who are actively doing research in this. The blogger from genetic future is in Australia studying muscles and human variation. Interestingly enough there is a company in Australia that is studying these things and selling the tests. I wonder if this company will now start selling IVF mitochondrial transplants? Slippery slope, but amazing cure for these horrible diseases.


Elana said...

You've been tagged.


Check out FunnyBusiness at Http://

for the rules

Steve Murphy MD said...

Thanks Elana,
I will check it out!