The State of Mitochondrial Medicine

A review paper: "Mitochondrial disorders can no longer be ignored in most medical disciplines. Such disorders include specific and widespread organ involvement, with tissue degeneration or tumor formation. Primary or secondary actors, mitochondrial dysfunctions also play a role in the aging process. Despite progresses made in identification of their molecular bases, nearly everything remains to be done as regards therapy. Research dealing with mitochondrial physiology and pathology has [greater than 20 years] of history around the world. We are involved, as are many other laboratories, in the challenge of finding ways to fight these diseases. However, our main limitation is the scarcety of animal models required for both understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the diseases and evaluating therapeutic strategies. This is especially true for diseases due to mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), since an authentic genetic model of mtDNA mutations is technically a very difficult task due to both the inability of manipulating the mitochondrial genome of living mammalian cells and to its multicopy nature. This has led researchers in the field to consider the prospect of gene therapy approaches that can roughly be divided into three groups: (1) import of wild-type copies or relevant sections of DNA or RNA into mitochondria, (2) manipulation of mitochondrial genetic content, and (3) rescue of a defect by expression of an engineered gene product from the nucleus (allotopic or xenotropic expression)."