A glimmer of hope: Researcher creates cell lines to help treat mitochondrial diseases in children

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The mitochondrion has garnered quite the reputation for its role as the “powerhouse of the cell.” These tiny, but mighty organelles play various life-sustaining roles, from powering our own cells and organs to fuelling chemical and biological processes. But when they aren’t working properly, a number of rare diseases can occur.

Mitochondrial diseases are a group of debilitating genetic disorders that affect one in 5,000 people throughout the world, most of them being children. Along with these diseases come a variety of health concerns, including, but not limited to; heart disease, developmental and cognitive disabilities, respiratory issues, poor growth, and even premature death. As of this moment, there is no cure.

But recent work published in the journals Mitochondrion and BMC Molecular and Cell Biology by Aloka Abey Bandara, a research associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team offers mitochondrial disease patients and their parents a glimmer of hope.

Bandara has successfully created live cell models that mimic mitochondrial disease cells. These cells will lay the groundwork for drug studies and future studies for mitochondrial diseases.

“Our cell models will allow us to see what exactly happens to the cells and its processes when a child develops mitochondrial disease. In addition to these factors, we will be able to conduct further study into the toxicity and effectiveness of novel drug candidates,” said Bandara.


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