Preventing Damage from Mitochondrial Mutations

2022 End of Year Campaign

Week TWO

Challenging Sarcopenia

No Damage Left Unchallenged!​


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Why MitoSENS:

The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell! What else do you need to know? All the processes in every cell in the body that keep you alive and able to do anything at all depend on cellular energy, and the mitochondria are where that energy gets made. But like other kinds of power plants, mitochondria produce toxic wastes along with valuable power. And that cellular pollution can damage the genes that mitochondria need to produce the replacement parts that keep their energy-production lines running. When these genes are damaged badly enough, the cell can’t produce energy efficiently, and the cell is forced to adopt an abnormal metabolic state that hobbles its normal function and harms its neighbors.

The core MitoSENS strategy is to bypass these mutations by creating “backup copies” of the mitochondrially-encoded genes in the safe harbor of the nucleus. That way our mitochondria can always get the spare parts they need, allowing them to keep fueling us into an indefinite healthy life.

MitoSENS: Ask Me Anything:

With Dr. Amutha Boominathan & Michael Rae

This week's Life Noggin video:

Disease Focus: Sarcopenia

If you compare two people of different ages with the same amount of muscle, the older person will still be weaker than the younger person. Even lifelong athletes who train regularly and get plenty of protein still suffer both a loss of muscle mass with age and a disproportionate and precipitous loss of strength on top of that. It’s called sarcopenia, and it’s a major contributor to frailty and loss of independence with age. When you see an older person struggling to open a door or open a jar of food, or who needs help getting luggage into the overhead compartment in an airplane, that’s sarcopenia at its terrible work. Sarcopenia also impacts our lives in less obvious ways, like increasing our risk of falling and of suffering a disabling fracture if we do. It even contributes to aging people’s increased risk of developing and dying from pneumonia, as weakened diaphragm muscles make it harder to fill our lungs with precious air and to cough out mucus or food and drink caught in the airways.

What’s that got to do with MitoSENS? Large deletions in mitochondrial DNA are an important and underappreciated driver of sarcopenia. Muscle fibers are organized into segments, each with its own localized population of mitochondria. When one of these local populations is overtaken by these defective mitochondria, that segment becomes the weak link in the chain of the muscle fiber. Such defective segments deplete the muscle’s ability to generate force and can even be the site of a break, taking the entire muscle fiber out of service. Fund MitoSENS, and help keep our muscles working and our fires burning bright!

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