NEW DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH
SUBMITTED BY ELLEN BURNS, VICE PRESIDENT & MEDICAL LIAISON
Dr. Bob Brown, Director of the Day Neuromuscular Research Laboratory in Charlestown, Massachusetts, is well known to the Deater family. From the first family blood drawing to the discovery of the gene that causes HSN I, he has supported research into the “Deater Disease.” Dr. Brown has once again expressed his intention to pursue finding the cause and cure for HSN I.
The field of molecular biology continues to advance rapidly. Researchers are able to use new computers and other technology to sort out the mechanisms of disease. In the study of many diseases, medicine has moved from the study of external causes (germs, chemicals) to the study of biochemical defects within the cells themselves. Scientists study the actual diseased cells and try to re-create the pathology.
Lots of colonies of cells can be nurtured and grown from a small skin biopsy. One of the uses of such colonies would be to expose each to a different drug, to see if the cells responded. Imagine rows of petri dishes, (remember high school biology)? In each dish is a different drug. The cells are introduced and scientists observe to see if any changes occur. This experiential model is solid science. If the experiment is successful, there is a possibility that even without fully understanding the mechanism of the disease, treatment could begin.
An even more exciting future goal is to develop a “mouse model” of the disease. Researchers would create mice that have the genetic defect. Since mice become “teenagers” in about four months, researchers might be able to quickly determine if signs of the disease are present. Much can be learned from a living model of the disease.
Of course, all research takes funding. The Deater Foundation was born of the desire to contribute within the circle of family and friends to support research into the cause and cure of HSN I. Research dollars direct the kind of research that is being done. The small contributions of The Deater Foundation have been used by Dr. Brown to “leverage” more grant money into this research. We are a large and caring family. Contributing to The Deater Foundation is a way of responding to the heritage with which we have been blessed. Please consider making regular donations in honor of parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Our dream is a cure for this painful, crippling disease.