The researchers have carried a new study on mice to develop a technique for editing their mitochondrial DNA that could pass on diseases incurable in nature.
The study was conducted by the researchers at the Salk Institute.
The research group used specifically engineered molecular scissors for snipping out the mutations in embryos, leaving the healthy DNA undamaged.
With the new technique, the researchers are hoping that serious forms of human mitochondrial diseases could be prevented one day.
The experts, however, raise scientific and ethical challenges against the DNA editing.
Dr Marita Pohlschmidt, from Muscular Dystrophy in the UK, said, “We welcome this exciting new technique, which could benefit thousands of women worldwide who risk passing on mitochondrial disease to their children.”
For the study, the researchers examined molecular scissors on mice with two types of mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA. The scientists were able to identify and cut out mtDNA in mouse embryos that could be disease-causing. This led to the development of a healthy offspring.
The editing technique was also successfully used on faulty human mtDNA that were inserted into mouse eggs.
According to the scientists, the next step is to carry out preliminary laboratory tests on the discarded embryos of humans. If the technique is proven effective and safe, it would offer a simpler substitute to the mitochondrial transfer therapy, which has recently received green signal from the UK authorities.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Cell.