Mitochondrial diseases afflict an estimated one in 4,000 people, most notably in the recent high-profile case of Charlie Gard in the UK, whose parents unsuccessfully sought to transport him to the US for experimental treatment. The fault lies in mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from mothers and is responsible for powering every cell in the body, per Quartz. Now a 5-month-old baby in Michigan has been diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome 13, which claimed the life of Gard last week. His parents will attempt experimental treatment in Boston, they tell NewsChannel3. With only a 50% chance of reaching his second birthday, they say at least their baby might "help other children with this condition."
Russell Cruzan III, or "Bubs," first worried his parents in early June, when they wondered why he wasn't eating or thriving and was lethargic. After several hospital visits, respiratory problems, and eventually pneumonia, they got the grim diagnosis: His body lacked the energy to power his major organs. The couple doesn't have help from their insurance provider, per WOOD TV, so they've set up a YouCaring page to help with the initial test. This is the type of disease that geneticists hope to be able to stop in its tracks using so-called three-parent IVF, where a donor egg supplies a healthy set of mitochondrial DNA (37 genes) and the biological mother supplies her egg's nucleus (thousands of genes) without passing on mitochondrial diseases. (A baby was born in Mexico using this technique.)