Stem Cells And Mitochondrial Myopathy

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Stem Cells And Mitochondrial Myopathy

Mitchondrial myopathy is a disease related to the mitchondria of cells that causes weakness in the muscles. All cells in the body contain mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy for proper functioning of the cells. (See Reference 1) In a cell, there can be hundreds of mitochondria present.

When the mitochondria are diseased, some of them shut down and the cells are unable to manufacture the required energy for proper functioning. This causes numerous problems. If the mitochondria of the muscle cells are affected, then the person will suffer from weakness of the muscle, intolerance to exercise, problems with co-ordination and balance, and possibly impaired vision. (See Reference 1) The severity of the symptoms, however, varies from person to person.

Some people may suffer from weakness of the muscles that control the movements of the eyelids and eyes. This may cause slow and steady paralysis of the eye, which is referred to as progressive external ophthalmoplegia; and droopy upper eyelids, which is referred to as ptosis. (See Reference 1) When a person suffers from progressive external ophthalmoplegia, the loss of eye movement is compensated by turning of the head. On the other hand, ptosis causes impaired vision and odd facial expression; but it can be rectified by means of surgery or wearing corrective ptosis crutch glasses. (See Reference 1)

Mitochondrial myopathy also can result in weakness and wasting of facial and neck muscles which are cause slurring of speech and problems while swallowing and chewing. (See Reference 1) Here, the affected person can be helped by undergoing speech therapy or eating foods that are easier to chew and swallow. When the mitochondrial myopathy affects the legs or arms, the person may become bound to a wheelchair or require braces. (See Reference 1)

Usually, people with mitochondrial myopathy experience muscular fatigue when they do any physical activity. The degree of the fatigue can vary from person to person. For instance, one person may experience the fatigue while doing an athletic activity, while the other may experience the fatigue by just lifting a carton of milk. (See Reference 1)

The treatment protocol for mitochondrial myopathy involves managing the symptoms and slowing down the progress of the disease. Treatment measures include taking vitamins, reducing physiological stress and undergoing diet therapy. (See Reference 2) However, with the advances that medical science is making, it may be possible that stem cell therapy could open up treatment avenues for this disease. In the year 2008, it was disclosed that a researcher from Columbia University, New York, treated a patient suffering from mitochondrial encephalomyopathy neurogastrointestinal. The patient received blood stem cell infusions and observed dramatic decrease in symptoms for 2.5 years. (See Reference 2) So, there is hope that even mitochondrial myopathy may be treated using stem cell therapy some time in the future.

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Stem Cells And Mitochondrial Myopathy Reference
1. Muscular Dystrophy Association: Facts About Mitochondrial Myopathies

2. Health Mad: Stem Cells for the Treatment of Mitochondrial Diseases