What is Mitocohondrial Disease and how can more research help?
By: Jennifer Tschida
For The Alpine Sun
Every 30 minutes a child is born who will develop a mitochondrial disease by age 10. Children with MD have a 50 percent chance of living past age 10 and only 20 percent live to age 20. At least one in 200 individuals in the general public have a mitochondrial DNA mutation that may lead to disease. It is greatly under diagnosed and the true prevalence is difficult to determine.
Research has consistently shown that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of many very common illnesses and chronic conditions of adulthood. Mitochondrial dysfunction affects you and someone you love because it is found in many well-known diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, autism, heart disease, blindness, migraines, infertility and even cancer. Furthermore, autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis appear to have a mitochondria basis to illness.
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth.
As the mitochondria fails to produce enough energy, the cell will not function properly and if this continues, cell death will eventually follow. Mitochondrial disease can affect any organ of the body and at any age. Symptoms are extremely diverse and often progressive. They include: strokes and seizures, muscle weakness, gastro intestinal disorders, swallowing difficulties, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, blindness and deafness and susceptibility to infections. The brain may be impaired, vision may be dim, muscles may twitch or may be too weak to allow your body to walk or write, your heart may be weakened, and you may not be able to eat and digest your food. This is precisely the situation people with mitochondrial disease find themselves.
When the mitochondria fail, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised and can and does lead to death. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common. For more information go to UMDF.org or mitoresearchfund.org.