MitoMedical Spotlights Link Between Mitochondrial Disease and Autism in Public-access Webinar

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by Magdalena Kegel |

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MitoMedical, which specializes in supplements for mitochondrial dysfunction, has  launched a public education initiative to help parents of children with mitochondrial problems to learn more about how brain conditions, such as autism, might arise when mitochondria are not working properly.

As part of the initiative, MitoMedical released an educational webinar explaining the link between mitochondrial disease and autism, and detailing the benefits of a new supplement.

Since the brain use more energy than most other organs in the body, requiring almost one-fourth of our daily energy intake to function, diseases affecting our cellular power plants — the mitochondria — tend to take a substantial toll on brain function.

Despite this, researchers working on neurological and mitochondrial diseases often focus only on their particular field. In 2012, Dr. Richard E. Frye at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute co-authored an analysis of 18 published studies showing that at least 30 percent of children having an autism diagnosis — a mental disorder characterized by difficulties in communicating and forming social bonds — have mitochondrial dysfunction.

“Mitochondrial dysfunction could explain brain dysfunction in many children with autism as well as explain why many other medical disorders, such as gastrointestinal and immune dysfunction, are also associated with autism,” Dr. Frye, director of autism research at the Arkansas center, said in a press release.

Treating mitochondrial conditions with supplements that might restore some of the lost functions, however, is difficult because the sheer quantity of substances needed. The disagreeable taste of many of their ingredients also makes them unappealing to children.

Such hurdles led Michelle Hasson, a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry, to contact Dr. Suzanne Goh, former co-director of the Columbia University Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic for Autism and Related Disorders. The idea was to create a supplement that would overcome these difficulties, and together they founded MitoMedical.

“Physicians at leading medical centers have been recommending mitochondrial supplements for decades,” said Hasson, CEO of MitoMedical. “The problem for many has been getting the required dose in a format that is easy for anyone to consume, so we set out to change that.”

The result was a product based on a cocktail of mitochondrial supplements — MitoSpectra — developed by Dr. Richard Kelley at the Kennedy Krieger Institute of John Hopkins University.

“In order to get the same dose one would have to take more than 40 individual vitamins, minerals and supplements to achieve the same amount of active ingredients contained in just eight MitoSpectra capsules,” said Dr. Goh, medical director at MitoMedical.