Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Mitochondrial Trades

According to colleagues, Shoukhrat Mitalipov is a 'mitochondriac,' the New York Times says.

Mitalipov, a senior scientist at the Oregon Health and Science University, has been working on removing the nucleus from one egg cell and moving it to a donor egg cell, to allow women with mitochondrial defects to conceive children without such defects.

Mitalipov's work, the Times adds, has drawn the scrutiny of ethicists and others as the resulting child would have genetic material from three people: the mother, the father, and the egg donor. It could, critics say, lead to the creation of children with specific traits.

Mitalipov notes, though, that mitochondria only have three dozen or so genes that are mainly involved in energy production.

His focus on mitochondria goes back to graduate school in Russia when he noticed that stem cells extracted from mouse embryos don't age, an effect he traced to the cytoplasm, the Times says, and as mitochondria increasingly were implicated in disease, he wondered whether they could be replaced. In 2009, two rhesus monkeys with replaced mitochondria were born. Mitalipov also adapted the process for human eggs, though those eggs were not allowed to develop, due to federal rules.

"We are ready now to move on to the next stage," Mitalipov says. "Not in 10 years, but in the next few years." The Times notes that OHSU says it hasn't decided whether to ask the Food and Drug Administration for permission for clinical trials.