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Molecular scissors will help to prevent human hereditary diseases


Salk Institute scientists have found a way to cut out mutations of the mitochondrial DNA associated with the development of incurable diseases.

The scientists employed specially designed molecular scissors, which allowed to snip out some regions of the DNA leaving healthy DNA intact. At the moment, the new technique has already been tested successfully in mouse embryos. They were able to remove disease-causing DNA and newborn mice had no signs of hereditary diseases associated with defective mitochondrial DNA.

Authors of the new technique believe that molecular might be applied effectively to prevent passing on of serious diseases to children, providing an alternative to "tri parent IVF". The mitochondrial transfer therapy, recently given the green light by the UK, involves transplantation of the nucleus of patient's fertilized oocyte to the cytoplasm of donor's egg. In so doing, the child inherits all features from its biological parents, but gets donor's healthy mitochondria.

Let us recall that inheritance of defective mitochondria is associated with development of a range of serious diseases, including blindness, dementia, diabetes, disease of heart, kidney and liver.

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