Mitochondria, the organelles that produce most of a cell’s energy, are distinguished from other organelles by having their own genetic information which is independent of the nucleus. The mitochondrial genome encodes for only 13 proteins, but these proteins are not only very important for energy generation; mutations in these genes are known to be responsible for a number of inherited diseases and they have been implicated in metabolic diseases, aging and neurodegeneration. The ability to edit the mitochondrial genome is important for the study of those diseases and conditions, and ultimately for therapeutic interventions.
However, in this age of gene editing, scientists have not been very successful in using CRISPR on mitochondrial genome. It is therefore very exciting that a group at Harvard University and University of Washington has discovered a method that allows for precise editing of mitochondrial DNA which could move the field to a whole new level.