Lily and partners fund £80k study into mito and neuropsychiatric diseases

25 February 2021

The Lily Foundation is very proud to announce its latest investment into scientific research to improve the lives of people with mitochondrial diseases.

The charity is co-funding an £80,000 study to explore the links between mito and neuropsychiatric diseases – a blanket term that covers a broad range of medical conditions involving neurology and psychiatry. 

Common neuropsychiatric diseases include attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism and dementia.

The research aims to shed new light on the neurological impact of mitochondrial diseases, and will hopefully lead to improved information, mental health care and treatments for mito patients.

The Lily Foundation has partnered with the Canadian consortium Mito2i to fund the study, which will be based at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and University College London. 

The UK mito charity My Mito Mission has also contributed a significant sum to allow the project to happen. 

Alison Maguire, Head of Research & Finance at The Lily Foundation, said: 

"Investing in scientific research is the most effective way to create a better future for people with mitochondrial diseases, so we are delighted to be working alongside Mito2i and My Mito Mission to fund this study. We are also immensely grateful as always to our amazing supporters, whose generous donations and fundraising activities help to make vital projects of this sort possible."

This research will open doors for better diagnostics and treatment, while also increasing awareness about the biological foundation of mental health." Dr Ana Andreazza, Associate Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Founder of Mito2i, said: 

"MITO2i’s mission is to transform our understanding of the role of mitochondria in human health and disease. We aim to accomplish this by working together with researchers, clinicians, patients and advocates, academic institutions, NGOs and industry. Partnering with The Lily Foundation is fundamental to our mission, as it brings in international collaboration, novel perspectives and increased funding opportunities."

Speaking about her hopes for the study, Dr Andreazza added: 

"This project will focus on better understanding the neuropsychiatric and brain imaging phenotyping involvement in adult patients with mitochondrial disease. It will open doors for better diagnostics and treatment, while also increasing awareness about the biological foundation of mental health."  

Christine Beal, Co-Founder and Chair of My Mito Mission, knows from personal experience what can be gained by learning more about the relationship between mitochondrial diseases and mental health.

"When our adult daughter was found to have brain lesions with a mitochondrial disorder as the cause, nobody could tell us the implications," she said. 

"We never knew how much of Emma’s subsequent mental ill-health was down to the stress of coping with the illness, or as a direct physical result of any damage, or a combination of the two. We now know this issue affects many people with mito, and that more research is needed to enable more knowledge, treatment and improved patient support. My Mito Mission is delighted to help The Lily Foundation make this vital research happen, with thanks due as always to our wonderful supporters."

Work on the study is due to begin this April. We hope to release more details about the project soon.