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

ondrial diseases remain poorly understood. One complicating factor is heteroplasmya mixture of mutated and normal mitochondrial genomes within the same cells or tissues. In contrast to conventional gene sequencing, which can detect only heteroplasmic mutations that reach levels of at least 30 to 50 percent, the customized kit has the sensitivity to detect mitochondrial genome mutations present at levels as low as 8 percent. To achieve their results, the study team adapted an existing whole-exome sequencing kit from Agilent Technologies, expanding it to encompass the mitochondrial genome.

The availability of the new kit, said Falk, if used for either clinical or research purposes, may shorten the "diagnostic odyssey" experienced by many patients and families seeking the cause of debilitating and puzzling symptoms. "Many families travel from one specialist to another for years, searching for the cause of their rare disease," she says. Specific treatments are not always available, but identifying their disease cause may be the first step toward discovering treatments.

A second recent study by Falk and colleagues reviews progress in diagnosing mitochondrial disease, through their experience at a single center over a rapidly changing three-year period before whole-exome sequencing was generally available. The retrospective review in Neurotherapeutics, published Dec. 27, 2012, covers 152 child and adult patients evaluated at CHOP's Mitochondrial-Genetics Diagnostic Clinic from 2008 to 2011.

"Before 2005, very few individuals could receive definitive molecular diagnoses for mitochondrial diseases, because of limitations in both knowledge and technology," said Falk. "Since that time, the clinical ability to sequence whole mitochondrial DNA genomes has significantly improved the diagnosis of many mitochondrial disorders."

During the study period covered in the review article, the clinic at CHOP confirmed definite mitochondrial disea
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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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