New research shows that children can still inherit mitochondrial disease even if their mother never showed signs of the disease, reports ALN Magazine. It has been shown over time that the disease is inherited from the mother that has been diagnosed prior, yet now, a study from The University of Cambridge in the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit discovered that healthy individuals may still have the mutation and can pass it along to their child, even if they were previously unaffected.
Mitochondrial disease is an extremely rare disease that affects about 1 in every 10,000 births and is caused by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. It is a severe disease and often is fatal. Mitochondria is responsible for producing energy, as well as being a road map for DNA. Their function is crucial, and inherited directly from the mother. They found that even lower levels of mitochondria mutation can still be carried by healthy humans, and these mothers may unknowingly pass them on. To learn more about mitochondrial disease, click here.
Over the course of a family’s generation of reproduction, the risk of having a mutation rises and could eventually lead to a child having the full-blown disease upon birth. If mothers had a mitochondrial test prior to having a child, there is a chance they could catch a mutation and have it removed prior to having children and reduce the risk. Many believed that these mutations were developed from previous diseases, but now this study shows that might not be the only reason. Unfortunately today, there is still no cure for the disease, only methods to stop the disease before birth.
MRC Head of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Dr. Nathan Richardson, shared that he’s excited by the insight that has been made. The researchers were successfully using the tissues that were provided by the MRC-Welcome Human Developmental Biology Resource. Thankfully to organizations like HDBR, they were able to conduct a successful study and find potentially preventative actions to halt the fatal mitochondrial disease.