Scientists stresses need for more focus on mitochondrial diseases

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Manipal, Nov 12 (UNI) Scientists at the Indo-US workshop on Mitochondrial Research and Medicine today stressed the need to focus on mitochondrial diseases, which were the main cause behind cancer, autoimmunity, regeneration, neurodegenerative disease and even the aging process.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the three-day workshop, organised jointly by the Manipal Life Science Centre (MLSC), Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) and Indian Society for Mitochondria Research and Medicine (INMIT) here, Dr Robert Naviaux, president of Mitochondrial and Medicine Society stressed that disturbances in mitochondrial function are the heart of several disorders, including childhood and adult forms of mitochondrial diseases faced by the people in the 21st century.

Diabetes, heart disease and obesity are now affecting nearly half of the adults in the United States and the epidemic was further spreading.

He cautioned that as countries around the world urbanise and adopt lifestyle of the 'Computer Age' we are witnessing a rising tide of these complex disorders. There was need for working together towards a better understanding of the workings of the cells and to find solutions to this complex diseases, he said.

Dr Naviaux said even though the first DNA mutations that cause mitochondrial disease was discovered in 1988, it was long neglected as an area of study in the US by National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, this year marked dramatic change with the Roadmap Office of NIH creating a new series of grants in 'Transformative new research areas'.

He said around the world, scientists from diverse disciplines were turning their attention towards mitochondria and physicists see it as quantum fuel cells, combining oxygen and hydrogen to make energy and water. Mitochondrial Medicine was the newest sub-speciality in all of medicine.

He said the goal of the conference series was to bring together scientists and clinicians from the US and India to share cutting edge science and clinical experience that would help prevent and combat both childhood and adult forms of mitochondrial disease.

Dr Lalji Singh, Director CCMB, Hyderabad, who addressed cautioned that large number of people in India, particularly children were affected with mitochondrial diseases. However, there was not much awareness about the diseases among the public as well as the clinicians, which calls for an urgent need to spread the knowledge about this disease and its implication, he added.

Dr Arabindo Mitra, Executive Director of IUSSTF in his welcome speech said the forum so far conducted 102 such workshop, for which 22 million dollar had been spent. 150 US companies have set up R and D based industries in India. The Forum during last year was able to send 74,873 Indian students to the US under exchange study programme, he said.

He said the forum was also planned to start bilateral science and technology research activities once the joint commission was set up for the purpose.

The workshop was earlier inaugurated by Dr H S Ballal, the Pro-Chancellor of Manipal University and 35 resource persons from India and the US are participating in the four-day workshop.


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