Destroying Mutant Mitochondrial DNA as a Strategy to Treat Mitochondrial Disease

The herd of bacteria-like mitochondria in each of our cells are vital cellular components, and come equipped with their own small genome, the mitochondrial DNA, one or more copies in each mitochondrion. If that DNA is broken, then harm results. Mitochondrial diseases bear only superficial similarities to the mitochondrial DNA damage that is a root cause of degenerative aging; while it is the case that mitochondrial DNA is mutated in both cases, the distribution of those mutations in cells and tissues is quite different. Nonetheless, it seems a reasonable proposition that a strategy of selectively destroying damaged mitochondrial DNA may work in each situation, though for different reasons.

mitochondriagenomemitochondrial DNAMitochondrial diseasesmitochondrial DNA damage that is a root cause of degenerative aging

In inherited mitochondrial disease, there is some split between healthy and damaged copies of mitochondrial DNA in cells. Destroy the bad genome copies and the good ones will hopefully replicate to make up that loss. In aging, just a few cells become entirely overtaken by clones of mitochondria with damaged genomes, but they exert a sizable negative influence on health via generation of oxidative molecules. Destroying all of the mitochondrial DNA in those cells might be expected to kill them, for


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