My Eek meter is ticking

BBC NEWS | Health | Three-parent embryo formed in lab:

The embryos have been created using DNA from a man and two women in lab tests. It could ensure women with genetic defects do not pass the diseases on to their children. It is human beings they are experimenting with Josephine Quintavalle Comment on Reproductive Ethics ‘Our aim is to help children’ The technique is intended to help women with diseases of the mitochondria – mini organelles that are found within individual cells. They are sometimes described as “cellular power plants” because they generate most of the cell’s energy. Faults in the mitochondrial DNA can cause around 50 known diseases, some of which lead to disability and death. About one in every 6,500 people is affected by such conditions, which include fatal liver failure, stroke-like episodes, blindness, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and deafness.

Uh, doesn’t it kinda follow that if mitochondrial defects can cause diseases of all these different bodily systems, alternate, non-defective alleles can have other, less obvious effects. At the trivial level, it’s long been suspected that some athletes have either particularly effective mitochondria or excess organelles in certain cells. Supersoldiers, here we come…

Somewhat interestingly, the same thing in reverse has been going on for a long time; it would be interesting to do followup on kids born of such manipulations. (With the cytoplasmic transfer, it seems you’d get mitochondrial contributions from both donor and genetic parent, which could explain why so many abnormalities…)


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