A promising technique to prevent mothers from passing on devastating mitochondrial diseases was thrown a biological curve ball this week: A paper published Wednesday in Nature shows that such diseases can come back to sicken a child, even when 99 percent of the motherís own mitochondria are eliminated.
Mitochondria are the tiny power plants that provide the energy every cell needs to function. When a large percentage of these organelles malfunction, cells cannot do their jobsóand everything from weakness to death can result. Mothers with certain conditions may have such low levels of faulty mitochondria that they have no symptoms, but their kids can inherit a higher burden of these defective mitochondria, leading to devastating illness.
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