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Transplanting organelles from cell to cell

04 July 2022

Organelle Transplant

Just as the human body can be divided up into organs, our cells have their own ‘small organs’ called organelles. And just as replacing a faulty organ with a transplant can add years to a patient’s life, the hope is that one day we may be able to do something similar by transplanting organelles. Patients with inherited diseases of mitochondria – organelles that generate the cell’s energy – would particularly benefit. This may sound much like science fiction, but researchers believe they've now reached a point where it's technically feasible. The team developed and successfully used a nanosyringe to transplant mitochondria from one living cell into another. Not only do both the donor and recipient cells survive the process, but the transplanted mitochondria merge with those in the recipient cell to form one functional network. This video shows the transplanted mitochondria (red) fusing with the existing network in the recipient cell (cyan).

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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