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Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy:

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the U.K. fertility regulator, recently confirmed that less than five children have been born using mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT).

  • In 2015, the United Kingdom became the first country to regulate mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT).
  • Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) is a new form of reproductive in-vitro fertilization (IVF) which works on the principle of replacing a women’s abnormal mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) with the donor’s healthy one.
  • People have two types of DNA in their cells, nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited only from the mother.
  • MRT is designed to prevent women who are carriers of mitochondrial diseases from passing on these heritable genetic diseases to their children.
  • MRT involves using an egg from an egg donor who doesn’t have mutations.
  • The nucleus of the egg is removed and replaced with the nuclear DNA from the woman who has mitochondrial DNA mutations.
  • The egg is then fertilized with the father’s sperm in the embryology lab.
  • If it grows into an embryo for transfer during IVF treatment, the embryo would be free of mitochondrial disease.
  • Mitochondria are membrane-bound cell organelles that generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions.
  • Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cell.
  • Chemical energy produced by the mitochondria is stored in a small molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the chemical energy “currency” of the cell that powers the cell’s metabolic activities.
  • Generally, mitochondria, and therefore mitochondrial DNA, are inherited only from the mother.