The effect is of significance in reproduction medicine
Burgstaller's results may have effects on the planned introduction of the so called "Three-Parent Baby" in Great Britain. Experts take the cell nucleus of one human egg cell whose mitochondria have a defect and place it in an egg cell with "healthy" mitochondria. The baby resulting from this procedure has three parents, namely the mother whose cell nucleus is used, the mother whose mitochondria are involved, and the father whose sperm inseminated the egg cell.
However, this method raises the following problem: in every nuclear transfer, a small number of defective mitochondria are transferred into the healthy egg cell. "So far it was believed that this minimal 'contamination' is of no consequence for the baby. However, our data show that the effect may have dramatic consequences on the health of the offspring. If the mitochondria of both mothers are genetically very different, it may have the same effects seen in the mouse model," says Burgstaller who developed the theory together with co-author Joanna Poulton, Professor of Mitochondrial Genetics at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. "One mitochondrial type may be able to assert itself against the other. If the assertive one happens to carry the defective mtDNA, the benefit of the therapy would be jeopardized."
The solution to the "Three-Parent Baby"-problem
Burgstaller and his colleagues suggest the following solution to the problem: the mtDNA of both mothers, i.e. the donor of the nucleus and the donor of the mitochondria, should be analyzed in advance and aligned to each other. So called "machting haplotypes" could prevent the dangerous effect. In the future the effect may even be utilized in a targe
|Contact: Joerg Burgstaller|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna