I. GAUCHER’S DISEASE (or simply “Gaucher Disease”)
A. WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Gaucher (pronounced "go-SHAY") disease is an inherited illness caused by a gene mutation. Normally, this gene is responsible for an enzyme called glucocerebrosidase that the body needs to break down a particular kind of fat called glucocerebroside. In people with Gaucher disease, the body is not able to properly produce this enzyme, and the fat can not be broken down. It then accumulates, mostly in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Gaucher disease can result in pain, fatigue, jaundice, bone damage, anemia, and even death.1
Types of GAUCHER’S DISEASE
* Type 1 Gaucher disease is the most common form of this condition. Type 1 is also called non-neuronopathic Gaucher disease because the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) are usually not affected. The features of this condition range from mild to severe and may appear anytime from childhood to adulthood. Major signs and symptoms include enlargement of the liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly), a low number of red blood cells (anemia), easy bruising caused by a decrease in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), lung disease, and bone abnormalities such as bone pain, fractures, and arthritis.
* Types 2 and 3 Gaucher disease are known as neuronopathic forms of the disorder because they are characterized by problems that affect the central nervous system. In addition to the signs and symptoms described above, these conditions can cause abnormal eye movements, seizures, and brain damage. Type 2 Gaucher disease usually causes life-threatening medical problems beginning in infancy. Type 3 Gaucher disease also affects the nervous system, but tends to progress more slowly than type 2.
* The most severe type of Gaucher disease is called the perinatal lethal form. This condition causes severe or life-threatening complications starting before birth or in infancy. Features of the perinatal... [continues]
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