Making a Difference

Christini Fund supporters continue to help scientists make great strides in mitochondrial research. Over the past 17 years, researchers at UC Ssn Diego’s MMDC have published over 101 scientific research papers in mitochondrial medicine. One of these publications was the landmark discovery of the gene that causes Alpers syndrome, the oldest mitochondrial disease known. The MMDC has also been successful in training physicians in recognizing and treating mitochondrial disease.

In addition, research has shown that mitochondria play a fundamental role in many common diseases like diabetes, autism, heart disease, and cancer that ultimately will affect the lives of over 50% of the people born today. These discoveries have broken new ground and are leading to fresh new ideas for the treatment of these complex disorders.

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Since 2013, funds received through corporate funding and annual/event giving made on-going research by Christini Fund scientists possible and the following advancements were made:

  • Dr. Naviaux’s research in autism received national recognition in 2011, when he was given a “Trailblazer” award by Autism Speaks. His research into how mitochondria “talk” to other cells is creating fresh new leads to treatment and hope for thousands of families with children with autism. This work has led to a new unifying theory for the cause and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and the identification of a fresh new class of medicines to treat these ASDs.
  • A clinical trial, based on Dr. Naviaux’s discoveries, will be launched this summer to test a new treatment for children with autism.
  • Dr. Naviaux and his colleagues discovered this year that they can “listen” to cellular danger signals using simple blood and urine tests to help doctors better care for patients with diabetes. Research has led to the Development of NextGen tools of “Metabolomics” to predict who is at risk for developing severe complications like kidney failure, heart failure, or blindness from diabetes.
  • These new methods in Metabolomics are being used to help returning soldiers suffering from PTSD and to better understand and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic head injuries that lead to mood swings, depression, and dementia.
  • Characterization of a signaling pathway that mitochondria use to control DNA mutations and metabolic changes that are associated with cancer, stem cells, tissue injury, and healing after heart attacks and strokes.

Since 1999, Christini Fund donations have supported the research for ground-breaking scientific publications about mitochondrial disease, have helped UCSD scientists define the link between infection and brain disease and have led to the creation of the first International Mitochondrial Standards Initiative (IMSI) and to the first internet-based World Registry of Mitochondrial Disease, now called the North American Mitochondrial Disease Consortium (NAMDC). All of these were under the direction of Dr. Robert Naviaux.

> View Publications Made Possible with Christini Fund Support