May, 2022 - By WMR
Researchers developed a new technique to transplant mitochondria that ensures high rate of survival and provides unparalleled efficiency
Eukaryotic cells are characterized by mitochondria and the complex endomembrane system. Until now, manipulating structure organelle inside single live cells was difficult. Now researchers at ETH Zurich developed a new method with which transplantation of mitochondria, the small powerhouse of the cell, from one living cell to another is possible with supreme efficiency.
Transplantation of mitochondria showed promising results in animal studies as a way to rejuvenate tissues affecting dysfunction of mitochondria in past. These studies involved tissue grafting or injecting healthy mitochondria in damaged tissues. These mitochondria get absorbed in damaged cells and help them to heal. It was used in rare cases for treating damaged hearts in newly borne babies. However, the clinical use of this method is limited. Now researchers developed new method that ensures high rate of survival. The team found a way to manipulate organelles in each structure of living cells with cylindrical nanosyringe specially developed for them. With these small tools, the team pierced the membrane of healthy cell to take out spherical mitochondria and placed it into damaged cell by similarly piercing its membrane. The method involved use of laser light to control the position and pressure regulators of the syringe accurately to adjust the flow, which allows the transfer of extremely small fluid volumes.
The new method is minimally invasive and when tested in lab, the mitochondria transplanted into damaged cells showed high rate of survival, which was more than 80%. These transplanted mitochondria fused with an existing network of other mitochondria in roughly 20 minutes. As per the team, this technique could be used to treat damaged organs, and it could also be used in anti-aging treatments, as well as for rejuvenation of stem cells that worsen with age in metabolic activities.