Mitochondria are organelles independent of the nucleus, equivalent to the energy generators of cells. It has its own DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and is inherited only by the mother. Once a mitochondrial gene mutation occurs, it may lead to mental disorders, blindness, epilepsy, dementia and death. At present, the only option for women suffering from diseases related to mitochondrial defects is to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis techniques to measure how many DNA mutations are in the egg to estimate the likelihood of future mitochondrial diseases in children.
To avoid inheriting the genetic defects of maternal mitochondria to future generations, the method proposed by scientists is to replace the defective genes and healthy genes, that is, to repair the defective DNA by replacing the mitochondria in the egg. A baby embryo formed in this way will have the main genetic material of the parent cell nucleus and healthy mitochondrial genes from another woman. According to "New Scientist" magazine, the research team of the National Primate Research Center and the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom have successfully conducted relevant experiments.
In 2009, a research team in the United States conducted experiments on rhesus monkeys, and finally gave birth to five baby monkeys with two "monkey mothers" and one "monkey father", and no obvious abnormalities were found in their observations. In 2012, they realized the mitochondrial DNA exchange between human eggs, and successfully fertilized these eggs. The British research team demonstrated their technology in 2010 using embryos discarded in other IVF trials. However, at present, whether in the United States or the United Kingdom, this technology is only allowed for experimentation, and it is not allowed to implant successfully cultivated embryos in the human uterus.
In terms of increasing the number of healthy blastocysts, the success rate of other IVF techniques is acceptable from 40% to 50%. At present, the experiments of the two teams have not reached this standard. American scientists believe that they have done all the procedures that can be tested on animals, and the remaining questions can only be fully answered by human trials.
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