Our mission is to promote research and educaiton for the diagnosis and cure of mitochondrial disorders and to provide support to affected individuals and families.
Mitochondria are often called the “powerhouses of the cell.” They are specialized compartments within almost every cell and are responsible for producing the energy needed by our body to sustain life. Mitochondria combine oxygen from the air we breathe with calories from food to produce the energy required for all bodily functions. If the mitochondria fail to produce sufficient energy, the cell will not function properly and organ systems will fail.
Research has revealed that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of many common illnesses and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, cancer and even the aging process. Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis also may have a mitochondrial basis. There also is new evidence that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in the cause of some children’s autism.
There also are “primary” mitochondrial diseases that usually result from genetic defects that reduce the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy. Mitochondrial disease was recognized relatively recently with the first cases diagnosed in adults in the 1960s and in children in the 1980s. Every 30 minutes a child is born who will develop a mitochondrial disease by age ten. Research published six months ago showed that more than 1 in 200 people have mitochondrial DNA mutations that could lead to mitochondrial disease.
While some steps are being taken, much more could be done to increase our understanding of this critical area of human health. Because mitochondria are so important to the health of cells, a full understanding of their function and dysfunction will have a significant impact on the health of our citizens and will lead to prevention and cures for medical problems that currently affect millions of Americans.
Each year, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation brings together clinical and basic science researchers sharing an interest in mitochondria from all over the world. Participants come from many fields, including biochemistry, genetics, neurosciences, cardiology, cancer, diabetes, nephrology, hematology, pediatrics and aging research. During the symposium, patients and families meet others who, like themselves, are seeking knowledge. They may be parents or an individual with similar experiences or someone that lives close to them. Patient and family attendees are given many opportunities to meet some of the top mitochondrial specialists from around the world. The symposium encourages the exchange of information and cultivates networking among physicians, researchers, patients and families.
UMDF - Hope for the Future