Mitochondrial transplant will help in organ transplant

(ORDO NEWS) — Swiss scientists have developed a “nanosyringe” for the precise introduction of mitochondria into a living cell.

Mitochondria are often referred to as the “powerhouses” of eukaryotic cells. These organelles oxidize glucose with oxygen, producing ATP molecules, the chemical energy source that powers all intracellular processes.

The heat released at the same time also warms the body. The process is massive and continuous, one cell can contain hundreds of thousands of mitochondria.

A stable supply of ATP is vital, and its violation is fraught with the rapid death of individual cells, entire tissues and organs.

To get rid of such problems, mitochondrial transplantation has been proposed – an experimental procedure that allows new healthy organelles to be introduced into cells for treatment, or “rejuvenation” of organs, or for their preservation during transplantation. While it is in the early stages of development, some approaches are only being tested in animal models.

A new impetus to such research is ready to give the development of scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich).

Julia Vorholt and her colleagues have created a tool that helps to perform this “cell operation” more accurately and reliably, ensuring a high survival rate of the transferred mitochondria.

The new “nanosyringe” is able to gently pierce the membrane of a donor cell, reach the desired area of ​​the cytoplasm, take it along with a mass of mitochondria, and then release them into the recipient cell.

Using the laser “ruler” of an atomic force microscope, the device controls the position of a hollow needle with great precision and regulates pressure, sucking in incredibly small amounts of liquid – according to the authors, millionths of millionths of a milliliter.

All this makes the invasive procedure minimally dangerous for the cells and the organelles themselves. The survival rate of mitochondria after “nanosyringe” transplantation exceeds 80 percent.

Once in a new cell, they quickly begin to work and after 20 minutes begin to integrate into the membrane structures on which ATP mass production is unfolding.

They successfully reproduce inside the cell and are transmitted to offspring (recall that mitochondria carry their own DNA, divide and inherit independently of the main genome).

Vorholt and her co-authors believe that thanks to the new method, the technology of mitochondrial transplantation has reached sufficient technical maturity to soon become one of the standard medical procedures.

It will make it possible to “rejuvenate” organs whose tissues suffer from mitochondrial dysfunction – a common problem of an aging organism – and expand the possibilities of transplantation.

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