In a report published online Wednesday by the journal Nature, Shoukhrat Mitalipov and others at OHSU report transplanting nucleus DNA into 64 unfertilized eggs from healthy donors. After fertilization, 13 eggs showed normal development and went on to form early embryos.
The researchers also reported that four monkeys born in 2009 from eggs that had DNA transplants remain healthy, giving some assurance on safety.
Mitalipov said in an interview that the researchers hope to get federal approval to test the procedure in women, but that current restrictions on using federal money on human embryo research stand in the way of such studies.
The research was funded by the university and the Leducq Foundation in Paris.
Dr. Douglass Turnbull of Newcastle University in Britain, whose team has transplanted DNA between eggs using a different technique, called the new research "very important and encouraging" in showing that such transplants could work.
But "clearly, safety is an issue" with either technique if it is applied to humans, he said.
Journal Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature
Mitochondrial diseases: http://www.umdf.org
British ethics group: http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/mitochondrial-dna-disorders
British government project: http://mitochondria.hfea.gov.uk/mitochondria/