Mitochondrial disease is a very serious genetic condition that can affect any person at any time in their life. The term refers not to one specific illness but to a number of diseases caused by faulty mitochondria, the tiny 'organelles' present in every cell in our bodies and which are responsible for generating over 90% of the energy we need to live.
What are the symptoms?
When mitochondria fail it can affect any part of the body. A person with mitochondrial disease may suffer from poor growth, seizures, muscle weakness, vision and / or hearing loss, learning disabilities or problems with their heart, lungs, brain or other organs. This makes the condition hard to diagnose, as the symptoms can mimic other serious illnesses.
Is there a cure?
There is currently no cure for mitochondrial disease. However, important steps have been made to make diagnosis faster, easier and less invasive to the patient, and some promising research into effective treatments is underway. The more we learn about mitochondrial disease the closer we will be to one day finding a cure.
Watch our video explainer narrated by Bill Nighy