Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine

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Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine

Dr. Morris and GSU – Research Study


Dr. Robin Morris and Georgia State University (GSU) Team are conducting a research study and need your help

Currently recruiting children for a federally funded research study focused on better understanding the brain-related mechanisms and deficits involved in mitochondrial dysfunction in autism.   All children must be between the ages of 5 and 16, have no prior history of central nervous system infection or trauma, be English speaking, and be able to perform basic school- like tests.

The study will be comparing the similarities and differences among these 3 groups of children on their a) behaviors, a series of b) neuropsychological tests that focus on attention and executive functions, c) functional brain scans that measure a child’s brain function while they are doing a memory and attention task, and except for the typical children, their d) biochemical and genetic lab result that documented their mitochondrial disease.

The entire study may take up to 6-8 hours.  This time may be split into 2-4 sessions if that is helpful for you and your child.  The study will take place at Georgia State in the Department of Psychology Clinic and/or at the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging depending on what part is being completed, and what might be the easiest for you.

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More about Dr. Morris and FMM
MRI Scan
In 2012, FMM’s grant to Dr. Robin Morris and his team of researchers at the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University for a joint research study at the GeorgiaState/Georgia Tech Joint Center for Advanced Brain Imaging is finding cognitive fatigue in children’s brain functions, of children with mitochondrial disease. Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and other technology, the aim of the study, originally funded by the DoD, is to determine if children with oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) defects in mitochondrial disease/dysfunction show indices of brain “fatigue” through testing by functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and neuropsychological testing.

OXPHOS is a cellular metabolic process the body uses to turn oxidation of nutrients into energy. While the study is ongoing, early trends note a very diverse pattern of developmental outcomes of the children who were diagnosed with Autism or ASD and mitochondrial disease when they were much younger, but who now, do not meet the various research criteria for these disorders that are standardly used (ADI-R or ADOS (or both) criteria. The research team continues to focus on the clear issue of cognitive fatigue in these children and hopes to have fMRI results that will provide a more quantitative method for documenting that factor and its impact on these children’s functioning in the near future.

Want to do more to help with research? 
You and your financial support can be the “energy source” and momentum for our mitochondria. This momentum will accelerate entry into the clinical trial phases, which will in turn propel mitochondrial disease research faster toward the cures.

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