Living With Wolfram Syndrome – Lauren’s Story

I’m Getting Botox, But Not The Way You’d Think

Photo of Lauren GibiliscoToday I am going to visit my grandmother celebrating her 80th birthday. I love my grandma and it is always fun to get together with all my relatives. After my doctor visit on Monday, I found out that my urologist is going to try something new for my bladder issues. I have a neuro stimulator implanted for my bladder that constantly spasms. It worked really well before but lately its not working as well. I get up almost hourly every night to go to the bathroom. This really tires me out because I never get any sleep. He is going to inject botox into my bladder to keep the spasms from occurring. He said he has had a lot of luck with this. He said it was done often on patients with MS or Cerebal Palsy. So I agreed to try it. It will last for one year. The doctor also had to inform me that there was a chance that it could paralyze my bladder. This thought really scared me. I thought, I get all the weird things happening to my body, so does that mean that I will have a paralyzed bladder? It this occurs, I would have to catherize myself for a year. Even though I am reluctant to do it, I will if it means I could get some sleep. My mom wishes they would inject it into my mouth so I quit talking so much. My mom is mad because the doctor won’t take a little extra and apply it to my mom’s face. LOL.

Well I have had my presurgical checkup and will have the surgery done on Wednesday. It is a 2 hour trip both ways to get to Omaha where my doctor is. I can’t wait to see if it works or not. Today I saw my psychiatrist. It was just a quick visit. He wanted to know how my constant checking things were doing. Was the medication doing what it is supposed to do for my bipolar diagnosis? It was all fine. We have to make a 1 ½ hour trip each way to see him. We are only there for a total of ½ hour. I feel bad my mom has to drive me everywhere. This has been a busy week. I will let you know next week how the surgery went.

Patient-Based Therapeutics Part 3

Research Update from
Dr. Fumihiko Urano

Patient-Based Therapeutics Part 3
Photo of Dr. Bess Marshall, Dr. Fumi Urano, Dr. Tamara Hershey

LEFT TO RIGHT: Dr. Bess Marshall, Dr. Fumi Urano, Dr. Tamara Hershey

Instead of introducing my research activities,  I would like to introduce my colleagues today. I have a lot of colleagues who have been helping me develop diagnostics and therapeutics for Wolfram at the Washington University Medical Center. Without their help, I cannot accomplish anything. I give many lectures and talks on Wolfram syndrome, but I feel that I am just a spokesperson or a salesman of our team.

Today I would like to introduce Dr. Bess Marshall and Dr. Tamara Hershey. Dr. Marshall is a pediatric endocrinologist and serves as a medical director of our annual Wolfram clinic. Dr. Marshall is an experienced, smart, and caring physician scientist. Dr. Hershey is a neuropsychologist and serves as a scientific director of our Wolfram clinic. Dr. Hershey is thoughtful, smart, and extremely good at getting things done. They are powerful driving force of our Wolfram project! I always appreciate their continuous support and advice. Here is their picture! (From left to right: Dr. Marshall, Fumi, and Dr. Hershey)

Dr. Fumihiko Urano a renowned physician and scientist developing therapeutics and diagnostics for Wolfram syndrome and juvenile onset diabetes.  His areas of expertise include Wolfram syndrome, type 1 diabetes, Pediatric pathology and genetics and Molecular Endocrinology.  He is currently employed at the Washington University School of Medicine where he holds the Samuel E. Schechter Professor of Medicine, 2012 – present.

 

Living With Wolfram Syndrome – Adam’s Story

What Define’s One’s Life

Photo of Adam ZwanSome people are glorified for an invention or for a remarkable breakthrough in science.  However, others make their mark in history by being diagnosed with a rare illness that shortens life expectancy by half.  My place in history start in 1987 on September 18, living life as a healthy young man only to find health beginning to spiral downward in 1994.  The diagnosis of Type I diabetes was only the first mile marker in my marathon known as Wolfram Syndrome.  As one of 18 patients with Wolfram in the United States I found myself obligated to beat the statistics and surpass the life expectancy of 31 years old by controlling my diabetes and staying as physically active as I possibly could. I took a realistic look at myself and said that Wolfram Syndrome is the hand that I was dealt in life and it is my responsibility to make the best of what I have.

[pullquote style=”right”]I took a realistic look at myself and said that Wolfram Syndrome is the hand that I was dealt in life and it is my responsibility to make the best of what I have.
[/pullquote] fitness routine has become the highlight of my every day and I use Wolfram as my driving force to continue staying physically active.  My clique is “No one needs an excuse to exercise everyday but it’s nice to know that I have one.”  Each day starts at Gold’s Gym from 6a.m until 8a.m. then I continue teaching fitness classes from 9a.m. until 12p.m. at a wellness and rehabilitation center and then finish each day with teaching Taekwondo classes from 3p.m.til 6p.m.  Simply put, being physically active, and helping others stay active, and rising above the natural struggles of health are just a few of the things I would like to define my life.

Patient-Based Therapeutics Part 2

Photo of Dr. Fumihiko Urano

Dr. Fumihiko Urano

Research Update from
Dr. Fumihiko Urano

Patient-Based Therapeutics Part 2

We are taking an unconventional approach to develop therapeutics for Wolfram syndrome. I would call it “patient-based therapeutics.” This implies a few things. One of these is the “mechanism-based treatment.” How can we achieve this component of “patient-based therapeutics” for Wolfram syndrome? Here are our current efforts.

1. Looking for FDA-approved drugs that can potentially halt progression of Wolfram syndrome (drug repurposing).
We looked for drugs that can protect cell death mediated by the leakage of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cytosol. We found four FDA approved drugs and one supplement so far. We are testing these drugs in Wolfram iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells and mouse models of Wolfram syndrome.

2. Looking for a new class of drugs that can protect cell death mediated by endoplasmic reticulum dysfunction.
We have developed a drug screening method to identify drugs that can protect cell death mediated by ER dysfunction. In collaboration with a non-profit organization, we are actively looking for a new class of drugs that can potentially halt the progression of Wolfram.

3. Testing if MANF (mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor) can suppress the ER calcium leakage-mediated neuronal cell dysfunction in Wolfram iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells.

I will talk about more on MANF some other time. I thought that this was a good biomarker for Wolfram syndrome because expression of this molecule is increased by ER dysfunction. However, the increase of MANF might be an adaptive mechanism of our cells to cope with abnormal ER function.

Dr. Fumihiko Urano a renowned physician and scientist developing therapeutics and diagnostics for Wolfram syndrome and juvenile onset diabetes.  His areas of expertise include Wolfram syndrome, type 1 diabetes, Pediatric pathology and genetics and Molecular Endocrinology.  He is currently employed at the Washington University School of Medicine where he holds the Samuel E. Schechter Professor of Medicine, 2012 – present.

Research Update – Patient Based Therapeutics Part 1

Patient Based Therapeutics – Part 1

Photo of Dr. Fumihiko Urano

Dr. Fumihiko Urano

We are taking an unconventional approach to develop therapeutics for Wolfram syndrome. I would call it “patient-based therapeutics.” Our extensive molecular characterization of patient cells, especially iPSC-derived cells, has been providing us remarkable insights into the root cause of Wolfram syndrome. Based on these insights, I have been carefully choosing molecular targets and processes for developing therapeutics. These are the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane integrity, ER calcium leakage, calpain-2, and WFS1 gene mutations.How we target WFS1 gene mutations? We have started testing genome editing to accomplish this. Genome editing is a process that involves cutting out pathogenic genetic material (i.e., mutations in the WFS1 gene) and replacing it with healthy genetic material. This is a molecular surgery. So I am becoming a molecular surgeon. In short, we are trying to repair a genetic defect in Wolfram syndrome.

Currently, we are repairing a genetic defect in iPS cells from patients with Wolfram syndrome to see if the molecular surgery can restore the normal function of neural progenitor cells derived from Wolfram iPS cells. This is an important step. When the transplantation of iPSC-derived retinal ganglion cells and beta cells are available in the clinic in the future, we need to repair the genetic defect before the transplantation.

Dr. Fumihiko Urano a renowned physician and scientist developing therapeutics and diagnostics for Wolfram syndrome and juvenile onset diabetes.  His areas of expertise include Wolfram syndrome, type 1 diabetes, Pediatric pathology and genetics and Molecular Endocrinology.  He is currently employed at the Washington University School of Medicine where he holds the Samuel E. Schechter Professor of Medicine, 2012 – present.