What is mitochondrial disease?

Mitochondria are extremely complex little organelles and each one requires over 1,400 genes to create it. Our genes are like the blueprints of our body, dictating exactly how we will be made and how we function.

Mitochondrial disease (‘mito disease’ for short) is due to a fault in one or more of the genes that make up the mitochondria. This means a hiccup will occur in the production of mitochondria from the time of conception. As the foetus grows, some mitochondria can divide and grow as normal whilst others will divide and grow abnormally.

The ratio of healthy to unhealthy mitochondria can also vary greatly from cell to cell and organ to organ. This is the main reason why it is so difficult to know where and when and how severely mitochondrial disease can strike each person.