Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited – the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they may have found an explanation: spontaneous errors in our DNA that arise as cells divide and replicate.
Researchers have shown for the first time how children can inherit a severe – potentially fatal – mitochondrial disease from a healthy mother. The study, led by researchers from the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit at the University of Cambridge, reveals that healthy people harbour mutations in their mitochondrial DNA and explains how cases of severe mitochondrial disease can appear unexpectedly in previously unaffected families.
Professor Patrick Chinnery, an expert in diseases that affect mitochondria – the ‘batteries’ that power our cells – has been appointed as Professor of Neurology and Head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge. He will take up his appointment on 1 October.