Sphingolipids Conference

A Sphingolipids Conference
Submitted by: Ellen Burns

In January of this year, Dr. Khemissa Bejaoui participated in an important conference in San Francisco. The Gordon Conference draws top scientists together to share their newest research findings. This conference was all about Sphingolipids.

Lipids are chemical fats. Cholesterol is a familiar example of one kind of lipid found in the body. Sphingolipids are made by molecules joining together to produce fatty acids that attach to a kind of backbone structure. Long chains of these compounds form together. The structure is so complex that the discoverer named these particular lipids after the Sphinx, the mysterious pyramid in Egypt!

The research that Khemissa has done proves that the gene defect that causes HSN I, the Deater Disease, decreases the production of one kind of sphingolipid, called glycosyl ceramide. Many researchers all over the world are interested in sphingolipid production. It appears that sphingolipids may play a role in many diseases, not only HSN I, and not only neuromuscular diseases. This means that scientists working in diverse fields, and studying many different diseases may be interested in finding out what happens when the genetic defect associated with HSN I decreases sphingolipid production.

Khemissa gave a Poster Presentation in which she gave examples of the disease in our family. Two other teams of researchers collaborated with her on the presentation. One group is from the Dermatology Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco. The other group is from the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Our family has been greatly blessed since the genetic defect was found. Scientists know what the gene is supposed to do. Many scientists in many different areas have been studying the action of sphingolipids in healthy cells for many years. Some are very interested in studying cells with the defect to find out what goes wrong. Once we know what goes wrong, scientists can determine how to treat or correct the problem.

We have a great opportunity to respond to the blessings we have received with support for continued research. God has taken our donations and, like the loaves and fishes, has multiplied them to keep the research moving forward.

The banner for the Poster Presentation has a tag line: Supported by:

  • The Deater Foundation
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • The Neuropathy Association

Thanks to all who contribute with your donations and your prayers. It is making a difference!