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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

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Sandhoff Disease

Sandhoff disease is a rare, genetic, lipid storage disorder resulting in the progressive deterioration of the central nervous system. It is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme beta-hexosaminidase, which results in the accumulation of certain fats (lipids) in the brain and other organs of the body. Sandhoff disease is a severe form of Tay-Sachs disease--which is prevalent primarily in people of Eastern European and Ashkenazi Jewish descent--but it is not limited to any ethnic group. Onset of the disorder usually occurs at 6 months of age. Neurological symptoms may include motor weakness, startle reaction to sound, early blindness, progressive mental and motor deterioration, macrocephaly (an abnormally enlarged head), cherry-red spots in the eyes, seizures, and myoclonus (shock-like contractions of a muscle). Other symptoms may include frequent respiratory infections, doll-like facial appearance, and an enlarged liver and spleen.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for Sandhoff disease. Supportive treatment includes proper nutrition and hydration and keeping the airway open. Anticonvulsants may initially control seizures.  In other ongoing studies, a small number of children have received an experimental treatment using transplants of stem cells from umbilical cord blood.  Although these limited trials have not yet produced a treatment or cure, scientists continue to study these and other investigational approaches. 

Prognosis

The prognosis for individuals with Sandhoff disease is poor. Death usually occurs by age 3 and is generally caused by respiratory infections.

Research

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducts research about lipid storage diseases in laboratories at the NIH and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Organizations

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Federation of voluntary health organizations dedicated to helping people with rare "orphan" diseases and assisting the organizations that serve them. Committed to the identification, treatment, and cure of rare disorders through programs of education, advocacy, research, and service.

55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association

The mission of the National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure Tay-Sachs, Canavan and related genetic diseases and to support affected families and individuals in leading fuller lives.

2001 Beacon Street
Suite 204
Boston, MA 02135
Tel: 800-90-NTSAD (906-8723)
Fax: 617-277-0134

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