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"Our results show that premature ageing is caused by point mutations in the mtDNA, which cause the mitochondrial proteins to become unstable and disintegrate," says Aleksandra Trifunovic, one of the scientists involved in the study.

According to the team, the study, which is presented in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, provides a better understanding of the interaction between mitochondrial function and the ageing process, and improves the chances of one day finding an efficacious treatment for mitochondrial disorders, something that is currently lacking.

Publication: "Random Point Mutations with Major Effects on Protein-Coding Genes Are the Driving Force behind Premature Aging in mtDNA Mutator Mice", Daniel Edgar, Irina Shabalina, Yolanda Camara, Anna Wredenberg, Maria Antoinette Calvaruso, Leo Nijtmans, Jan Nedergaard, Barbara Cannon, Nils-Göran Larsson and Aleksandra Trifunovic, Cell Metabolism, 6 August 2009.