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Batten disease
ICD-10 E754
ICD-9 330.1
OMIM 204200
DiseasesDB 31534
MedlinePlus [2]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Batten disease is a rare, fatal, inherited disease of the nervous system (neurodegenerative disorder) that begins in childhood.


Early symptoms of this disorder usually appear between the ages of 4 and 10, when parents or physicians may notice that a child has begun to develop vision problems, including eye discoloration in a milky fog gloss over the eyes, or seizures. In some cases the early signs are subtle, taking the form of personality and behavior changes, extreamly quick learning or regression, repetitive speech or echolalia, clumsiness, or stumbling. Other symptoms or signs may include slowing head growth in the infantile form (INCL or CLN1) , poor circulation in lower extremities (legs and feet), decreased body fat and muscle mass, curvature of the spine, hyperventilation and/or breath-holding spells, teeth grinding, and constipation. Later symptoms include random bleeding from the eyes and inflamation of nerve endings.

Over time, affected children suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, and progressive loss of sight, speech and motor skills. Eventually, children with Batten disease become blind, bedridden, and demented. Batten disease is often fatal by the late teens or twenties.


Batten disease is named after the British pediatrician Frederick Batten who first described it in 1903.[1][2] Also known as Spielmeyer-Vogt-Sjogren-Batten disease, it is the most common form of a group of disorders called Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (or NCLs). Although Batten disease is usually regarded as the juvenile form of NCL, some physicians use the term Batten disease to describe all forms of NCL.

Inheritance and diagnosis

The disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. The mutation causes the buildup of lipofuscins in the body's tissues. These substances consist of fats and proteins and form certain distinctive deposits that cause the symptoms and can be seen under an electron microscope. The diagnosis of Batten disease is based on the presence of these deposits in skin samples as well as other criteria. Six genes have now been identified that cause different types of Batten disease in children or adults; more have yet to be identified. Two of these genes encode enzymes. The function of most of these genes is still unknown. The identification of these genes opens up the possibility of gene replacement therapy or other gene-related treatments.


In June 2004, a Phase I clinical trial was launched at Weill Medical College of Cornell University to study a gene therapy method for treatment of the signs and symptoms of late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL). The experimental drug works by delivering a gene transfer vector called AAV2CUhCLN2 to the brain.[3]

In October 2005, the FDA approved the transplantation of fetal neuronal cells into the brains of children suffering from Infantile and Late Infantile versions of Batten disease. The cells, which are immature and in an early stage of development, are derived from aborted and miscarried fetuses and will be injected into the patient's brains. To avoid rejection of these foreign cells, the immune system of the patients has to be suppressed.

In November 2006, surgeons at Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University began a clinical study in which purified neural stem cells were injected into the brain of a six year old child suffering from Batten disease, who had lost the ability to walk and talk. The patient is expected the first of six to receive the injection of a stem cell product from StemCells Inc., a Palo Alto biotech company. It is believed to be the first-ever transplant of fetal stem cells into a human brain.[4]. By early December, the child had recovered well enough to return home and it was reported that there were some signs of speech returning. [5].

See also

  • CLN3
  • lysosomal storage disease


  1. Who Named It synd/7
  2. F. E. Batten. Cerebral degeneration with symmetrical changes in the maculae in two members of a family. Transactions of the Ophthalmological Societies of the United Kingdom, 1902, 23: 386-390.
  3. Clinical Trial: Safety Study of a Gene Transfer Vector for Children With Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. URL accessed on 2007-06-08.
  4. "A stem cell first at OHSU" The Portland Tribune, Nov 24, 2006
  5. "[1]Child who received stem cells from aborted fetus on way home"

External links

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