A longstanding question in science has the role of mitochondria in debilitating and fatal motor neuron diseases.
Mitochondria are organelles – compartments contained inside cells – that serve several functions, including making ATP, a nucleotide that cells convert into chemical energy to stay alive. For this reason mitochondria often are called "cellular power plants." They also play a critical role in preventing too much calcium from building up in cells, which can cause apoptosis, or cell death.
For mitochondria to perform its functions, it must be distributed to cells throughout the body, which is accomplished with the help of small protein "motors" that transport the organelles along axons.