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Momentum builds in quest to find cure for childhood brain disease
Date:2/19/2013

r RE," said Mathern. "Thanks to his leadership, we now have the network to collect the tissue and DNA needed to study the brain, immunologic cells and genetics to unlock what causes this disease and develop new treatments or a cure. The RE Children's Project has truly helped accelerate our research, bringing new information and resources that could have taken 10 more years to develop to the forefront today."

Rasmussen Encephalitis is a neurological disease that causes intractable seizures, cognitive deficits and paralysis of half of the body. It is very rare and only a few hundred cases have been reported worldwide. RE typically affects previously normal children between the ages of two and ten years old. The disease process can run its course over a one to two year period during which time one half of the body is rendered useless and epileptic seizures continue unabated.

An unusual feature of the disease is that it is usually confined to one hemisphere of the brain and is resistant to standard anti-seizure medicines. Currently the only known "cure" is radical the surgical removal or disconnection of the affected side of the brain known as a hemispherectomy.

In the summer of 2008, the Wohlberg's 10-year-old daughter Grace started to experience epileptic seizures. After months of testing, her parents learned that she had the extremely rare neurological disorder. Grace underwent an initial hemispherectomy surgery in February 2009. However, her seizures recurred so her parents then brought Grace to UCLA to complete the hemispherectomy which was performed by Mathern in March 2010.

Today, Grace attends high school with the assistance of a full-time aide. While the surgery has stopped the seizures, Grace faces lifelong disabilities including partial blindness, cognitive issues and learning how to walk again. She is also active in helping her father promote the RE Children's Project.

"It's really supportive to let
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Contact: Amy Albin
aalbin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-8672
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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