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Medical News & Perspectives
February 7, 2017

Sanctioned UK Trial of Mitochondrial Transfer Nears

JAMA. 2017;317(5):462-464. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.18680

Several years ago, a ray of light appeared in pediatric care when researchers devised a way to reset a child’s mitochondrial destiny.

Mitochondria—the tiny organelles floating by the hundreds in cellular cytoplasm that children inherit exclusively from their mothers—figure in a large number of burdensome, often fatal disorders, whose full extent medical science has only recently recognized. Mitochondria have their own DNA (mtDNA), separate from that contained in cell nuclei (nDNA), and their 37 genes are susceptible to heritable mutations that can interfere with the mitochondria’s essential job of converting food and oxygen into energy.