(Baltimore, MD) In new findings published on May 8, 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine (Epub ahead of print), researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute reveal the discovery of the cause a genetic mutation that occurs before birth of Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) and port-wine stain birthmarks. SWS is a rare disorder affecting approximately one in 20,000 births, while port-wine birthmarks are more common, affecting approximately one million individuals in the United States.
"This is a complete game changer for those with Sturge-Weber syndrome and the millions born with port-wine birthmarks," said co-senior study author, Anne Comi, M.D., Director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Hunter Nelson Sturge-Weber Center. "Now that we know the underlying genetic mutation responsible for both conditions, we're hopeful that we can move quickly towards targeted therapies, offering families the promise of new treatments for the first time."
Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurological and skin disorder associated with port-wine birthmarks on the face, glaucoma, seizures, intellectual impairment and weakness on one or both sides of the body. Current treatment options for children with SWS are limited, but include medications to reduce the likelihood of seizures and stroke-like episodes, eye drops and/or surgery to manage glaucoma, and physical rehabilitation.
Port-wine stain birthmarks are caused by abnormally dilated capillaries in the skin, which produce reddish to purplish discoloration. While a facial port-wine birthmark can be associated with SWS, they occur commonly in otherwise healthy individuals. Physicians may perform several painful laser treatments to attempt to remove the port-wine birthmark in infant children, but it often reoccurs.
"This study presents a turning point for research on Sturge-Weber syndrome and port-wine birthmarks," said Jonathan Pevsner, Ph.D., Director of Bioinformatics at Kennedy Krieg
|Contact: Megan Lustig|
Kennedy Krieger Institute