- By Dana Sparks
Discovery’s Edge: Hope for patients with a genetic neurological disease
Life with an inherited disease sometimes brings unexpected twists and turns. Five-year-old Gus Erickson has navigated the gyrations with the help of Mayo Clinic’s Neurofibromatosis Clinic. Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. Those tumors can develop anywhere in the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and on skin. Gus is one of some 3,000 neurofibromatosis patients from around the world treated at Mayo, which specializes in care for all three types of NF: NF1, NF2, and Schwannomatosis.
“Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating NF patients. We serve as the entry point to care. We have access to all needed specialties like ophthalmology, orthopedics, dermatology, neurology and psychology that can address complications of the disease,” says Dusica Babovic, M.D., of the Department of Clinical Genomics, who heads Mayo Clinic’s Neurofibromatosis Clinic.
Gus Erickson, like many boys his age, has a passion for superheroes. Gus’ own superhero-like courage and strength provide the inspiration his family needed to endure his medical challenges. As a baby, Gus was diagnosed with NF1, the most common type of neurofibromatosis. NF1 can produce tumors, brown spots and freckling, even in areas not exposed to the sun. When he was three, Gus started growing fast and not gaining weight. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a racquetball-sized tumor on the pituitary gland in his brain – a complication of this disease. Six days later, Gregg and Becky Erickson handed their little boy over to Mayo’s neurosurgery team. His mom and dad had great trust and hope in Mayo’s surgeon but, like any parents would be, they were terrified. Read the rest of Gus' story on the Individualized Medicine blog.
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