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A glimmer of hope: Virginia Tech researcher creates cell lines to help treat mitochondrial diseases in children

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 fueling 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.

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