Policy ForumMedicine

Mitochondrial Replacement, Evolution, and the Clinic

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Science  20 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6152, pp. 1345-1346
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237146

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Mitochondrial diseases [often caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)] can manifest in a range of severe symptoms, for which there are currently no cures (1). The diseases are passed from mothers to offspring. Intense research efforts have recently focused on a germline therapeutic strategy to prevent the inheritance of disease-causing mitochondria. However, although there has been increased government interest, especially in the United Kingdom, for using this approach to treat patients, there are reasons to believe that it is premature to move this technology into the clinic at this stage.