The Loh Down On Science

New DNA replacement technique may cure some genetic diseases

Image courtesy of Mitaliapov Lab, OHSU.

Heather Has Two Mommies—that is, two mommies’ DNA!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science and research that brings a children’s classic bedtime story to life!

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University are working on a new technique to combat genetic diseases.  These are diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from mothers to children.  These mutations can lead to lifelong health issues, like certain types of diabetes, deafness, and heart disease.

How’s the technique work? Faulty DNA from a mother’s egg is replaced by healthy DNA from a donor female egg.  The new, hybrid egg is fertilized with sperm in vitro, and voila!  No more mitochondrial diseases!

What else does Donor Mom contribute?  Not much—the amount of DNA replaced is tiny. It only affects cell processes—not things like hair and eye color or musical talent.

But wouldn’t it be great if it did? Hey,  I’d swap my freakishly large piano hands for your genetically assured math chops.  Tiger Moms rejoice!  Both of them.

 

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Ashley Merryman about her book (with Po Bronson) Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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