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Scientists create 1-step gene test for mitochondrial diseases
Date:1/29/2013

More powerful gene-sequencing tools have increasingly been uncovering disease secrets in DNA within the cell nucleus. Now a research team is expanding those rapid next-generation sequencing tests to analyze a separate source of DNAwithin the genes inside mitochondria, cellular power plants that, when abnormal, contribute to complex, multisystem diseases.

The study team, headed by a specialist in mitochondrial medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), adapted next-generation sequencing to simultaneously analyze the whole exome (all the protein-coding DNA) of nuclear genes and the mitochondrial genome. "A first step in developing treatments for a disease is to understand its precise cause," said Marni J. Falk, M.D., the director and attending physician in the Mitochondrial-Genetic Disease Clinic at Children's Hospital. "We have developed a one-step, off-the-shelf tool that analyzes both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA to help evaluate the genetic cause of suspected mitochondrial disease."

Falk and colleagues describe their customized, comprehensive test, which they call the "1:1000 Mito-Plus Whole-Exome" kit, in the journal Discovery Medicine, published Dec. 26, 2012. Her co-corresponding author, biostatistician Xiaowu Gai, Ph.D., now of the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, collaborated on developing the test while at Children's Hospital.

While each mitochondrial disease is very rare in the population, hundreds of causes of mitochondrial diseases are known. Some originate in mutations in DNA specific to the mitochondria, tiny structures located outside the cell nucleus, while many other mitochondrial diseases are based in nuclear DNA genes that affect mitochondrial function. The role of mitochondria in human disease has been recognized only since the 1980s, based on pioneering research by Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D., now at Children's Hospital, and a co-author of the current study.

Many mitoch
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Contact: Dana Mortensen
Mortensen@email.chop.edu
267-426-6092
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Source:Eurekalert

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