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S.8 /E.13 

S8E13 Lauren.jpg

Lauren- "Good Things Come in Small Packages"

Lysosomal Disease

Lauren, is here speaking with us today about Lysosomal Storage Disease.  Lauren, although only 4'3" has a great deal to share with us today!  She has four siblings whom she loves dearly, and graduated in 2011.  She worked at a community center until Covid put a hold on social gatherings. She considers herself a social person and is grateful for the chance to get her story out into the world.

Lysosomal storage diseases are inherited metabolic diseases that are characterized by an abnormal build-up of various toxic materials in the body's cells as a result of enzyme deficiencies. There are nearly 50 of these disorders altogether, and they may affect different parts of the body, including the skeleton, brain, skin, heart, and central nervous system. New lysosomal storage disorders continue to be identified. While clinical trials are in progress on possible treatments for some of these diseases, there is currently no approved treatment for many lysosomal storage diseases. (Credits to RareDiseases.Org)

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s8e13 Lysosomal


Lauren, symptoms, form, people, disease, listeners, diagnosed, Japanese descent, treatment, infants, facial features, infancy, disorders, birth, mom, professional medical advice, enzymes, storage, condition, spleen, Lysosomal, 


Lita T, Lauren, Jean, Ron


Lita T  00:09

Hello, and welcome to another episode of PodcastDX, the show that brings you interviews with people just like you, whose lives were forever changed by a medical diagnosis.  I'm Lita ...


Ron  00:20

and I'm Ron,


Jean  00:21

and I'm Jean Marie.


Lita T  00:23

Collectively, we're the hosts of PodcastDX. Our guest today is Lauren Ryan. She has four siblings whom she loves dearly. She graduated in 2011 and works at a community center. Not this year because a COVID. She's a very social person and grateful for getting her story out to the world. And today she's going to be talking to us about lysosomal disease.


Jean  00:50

Hi, Lauren.


Ron  00:51

Lauren, thank you for taking the time to join us today. Please start out by telling us and our listeners. What exactly is, and I hope I'm pronouncing this right, Galactosidosis Lysosomal Disease? And please for the rest of the episode, can we abbreviate this and just call it Galacto? Is that okay?


Lauren  01:18

Yes, you may call it that. Galactosidosis, also known as Galactosialidosis is a condition that affects many areas of the body. The three forms of Galactosidosis are distinguished by the age at which symptoms develop and the pattern of features.


Jean  01:50

And Lauren what were the symptoms that you started having and at what age did they develop?


Lauren  01:57

Well, I had Galactosidosis...they diagnosed me when I was born.


Jean  02:05



Lauren  02:05

So, the early infantile form of Galactosialidosis is associated with extensive swelling caused by fluid accumulation before birth, a soft out-pouching in the lower abdomen (an inguinal hernia), and an enlarged liver and spleen.  Additional features of this form include abnormal bone development and distinctive facial features that are often described as "coarse."  Some infants have an enlarged heart, an eye abnormality called a cherry red spot, which can be identified with an eye examination; and kidney disease that can progress to kidney failure.  Infants with this form usually are diagnosed between birth and 3 months; they typically live into late infancy.   The late form of Galactosialidosis shares some features with the early infantile form, although the signs and symptoms are somewhat less severe and begin later in infancy.  This form is characterized by short stature, dysostosis multiplex, heart valve problems.


Lita T  04:23

Oh, that's a hard one.


Ron  04:24

Yes, it is. Yeah,


Lita T  04:25

Let me see if I can help you with that one: heptyl ...let's see


Jean  04:28



Lita T  04:29

Hepato ...hepato


Ron  04:30



Lita T  04:31

Oh Hepatosplenomegaly,


Jean  04:35

I don't think that's it.


Lita T  04:36

Okay. I think it has to do with the the liver and the spleen.


Ron  04:41

Can I take a stab at it?


Jean  04:42



Lita T  04:42



Ron  04:45



Lita T  04:48

Okay. Anyway,


Jean  04:49

One day we'll get hosts that actually know how to pronounce medical terms. But, today is not the day! I'm sorry.


Lita T  04:54

Right. That's okay, go ahead, Lauren.


Lauren  04:55

...and "coarse" facial features.  Other symptoms seen in some individuals with this type include intellectual disability, hearing loss, and cherry red spot. Children with this condition typically develop symptoms within the first year of life.  The life expectancy of individuals with this type varies depending on the severity of symptoms.   The juvenile form of Galactosialidosis has signs and symptoms that are somewhat different of the other two types.  This form is distinguished by difficulty coordinating movements, muscle twitches, seizures, and progressive intellectual disability.  People with this form typically also have dark red spots on the skin, abnormalities in the bones of the spine, "coarse" facial features, a cherry red spot, vision loss, and hearing loss.  The age at which symptoms begin to develop varies widely among affected individuals, but the average age is 16.  This form is typically associated with normal life expectancy.


Lita T  07:01

Thank you, thank you for sharing that.


Ron  07:02

Yeah, that's... that's definitely a lot Lauren.  Can you please tell us how someone gets Galacto?


Lauren  07:10

It is caused by a mutation of CTSA gene.  Galactosialidosis belongs to a larger...a large family of lysosomal storage disease, each caused by the deficiency of a specific lysosomal enzyme or protein.  In Galactosialidosis, impaired functioning of cathepsin A and other enzymes causes certain substances to accumulate in the lysosomes.


Lita T  07:59



Jean  08:00

and I think we've said this of many chronic illnesses and diseases: it' have to become like a subject matter expert, because I think for most people, like myself included, when you mentioned lysosomes and things, I'm just...I draw a blank!


Lita T  08:15



Jean  08:15

Because it's just...the body is so complex


Lita T  08:18

 It is, but basically what it is, it's a metabolic disorder. So we'll...we'll leave it at that as far as a simplistic term. And thank you, Lauren. I think our listeners will have a little bit of an understanding of what we're talking about now and we will have links on our website so that people can learn more. Also. Could you please tell us how did your condition develop? And I kind of missed when you said...when did your...when did yours...


Jean  08:51

I think she said infancy, right?


Lita T  08:52

Early infancy or late infancy? I don't remember what you said.


Lauren  08:57

So I was diagnosed at birth.


Lita T  09:00

Oh, at birth.


Lauren  09:01

 When I was born.


Lita T  09:02



Lauren  09:02



Lita T  09:04

Okay, and how has it developed with you over time? What have been the symptoms that you've had to deal with here?


Lauren  09:15

Well, I have had like little to no symptoms over the course of the year. Like they haven't noticed any changes or anything with my disease in particular. But it's different for every person.


Lita T  09:38



Ron  09:38



Lauren  09:39

Living with like a chronic illness or disease or whatever. And so it's gonna be different for everybody. For me, I haven't noticed like any abnormal symptoms or whatever.


Jean  10:00

I did notice that you said the cheery red spot, which is something an eye doctor would have to see like, by looking at your retina, does that affect your vision at all?


Lauren  10:12

I don't think it does. No.


Jean  10:14

Okay, okay.


Lauren  10:14

I go see an eye doctor, a pediatric doctor every year.


Jean  10:22

Okay, okay.


Lauren  10:23

Just to see if my vision has changed at all.


Lita T  10:29



Jean  10:31

And Lauren, how is Galacto or lysosomal storage disorder treated?


Lauren  10:37

The variant that occurs in infants can be treated in several ways: So, it can be treated with intravenous (IV) enzyme replacement.  Or it can be done with bone marrow transplant, to slow the disease progression. Or umbilical cord blood stem cell transplantation, to restore missing enzymes. 


Ron  11:01



Lauren  11:10

And for adults, the treatment is symptomatic and supportive; for example, taking medication to control seizures.  Individuals with Galactosialidosis are encouraged to routinely see their genetic counselors, neurological, optha...


Lita T  11:45



Lauren  11:45



Lita T  11:52

 Right, right ophthalmological I can't say it either today.


Lauren  11:56

...ophthalmological, and other specialists as symptoms arise and to keep symptoms controlled.


Jean  12:08

Okay, it makes...Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So you're treating the symptoms as they come along? And can lysosomal storage there a cure or a potential cure? I know, you said that, you know, like bone marrow transplantation can help slow the progression.  Are they thinking you know about gene editing or anything like that in the future?


Lauren  12:29

There, there isn't a cure for lysosomal storage disorders, a few treatments can help.  And I actually went to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis Tennessee.  And like, in the beginning, they weren't gonna do a bone marrow transplant. But they, they did research on that and found it too risky.


Lita T  13:02



Jean  13:03



Lauren  13:04

So, for now, their doing the enzyme replacement therapy.  Which they still have to get past the FDA.


Jean  13:16



Lauren  13:16

...which has's over 10 years now...


Lita T  13:22



Lauren  13:22

...that it's been at the FDA.  So, I've been waiting over 10 years.


Ron  13:29



Jean  13:30

Well, and I would have to say for all of our listeners out there: if you can donate bone marrow, it's a quick cheek swab to see if you're a match for someone who needs it. So, hopefully this interview will encourage more people to get out there. And you know, donate.


Lita T  13:47



Ron  13:47

Right. So, Lauren, can you tell our listeners how common are these lysosomal storage disorders?  Are they rare or they pretty common or what can you tell us?


Lauren  14:00

Sure, more than 100 cases of the lysosomal storage disease have been reported. Approximately 60% of people with Galactosialidosis have the juvenile form.  Most people with this type of condition are of Japanese descent. Now I have contact with three people with Galactosialidosis. And only one of them have like, are close to me medical wise.


Lita T  14:51



Jean  14:51

And yeah, I think we said earlier in another episode that less than 200,000 cases is rare. So yours is


Lita T  14:59



Ron  14:59

 Very rare.


Jean  15:00

Very, very, very rare.


Lauren  15:02



Jean  15:02

Well, I'm glad that you were able to find someone to be part of you know, your group. Because um, yeah, that can help.


Ron  15:09

What I find interesting too is the last thing she said about most people are of Japanese descent. I mean, that's pretty specific


Lita T  15:18

Of the...of and juvenile right. The one that's from birth...not necessarily right?


Jean  15:24



Ron  15:25

So, so Lauren, what was the first symptom or the symptoms that first made you realize...


Jean  15:32

or your parents?


Ron  15:33

Yeah, it was at birth.  Yeah,


Lita T  15:33

I guess her parents.  Yeah.


Ron  15:35

What was the first symptom that made your parents realize that something was different? Yeah.


Lauren  15:43

Well, when I was born, I had extra abdominal fluid


Ron  15:51



Lauren  15:51

So, I had extra fluid, like in my stomach area. And then basically, they took like a biopsy of skin from me, and my mom, and dad. To test see if anything was...wrong. Or anything?


Lita T  16:15

Okay. Well, at least they had an idea. And where to look with it, which is good.


Jean  16:20

Yeah. But that's got to be tough. I mean, you know, you have a new infant and here, they're gonna take a biopsy.


Ron  16:24



Lita T  16:25



Jean  16:25

Um, Lauren, do you you know if there are any studies currently going on? Either to try to find a cure or improve overall symptoms?


Lauren  16:36

I know that my researcher at St. Judes Children's Research Hospital actually has done is done everything that she can do. So, now it's up to the FDA to approve it.


Lita T  16:53

Okay, okay


Jean  16:55



Lita T  16:55

So, the research, the research has been done, but it's got to get approved.


Ron  16:59

Wow. 10 years.


Jean  17:00



Lauren  17:01

Which has been taking like a long time to do!


Ron  17:05



Lita T  17:06

I wonder if...if because it's so rare. If that's what's causing the delay?


Ron  17:11



Lauren  17:12

Yeah, that's my guess. But the good thing is, I think my one brother is going to college for genetics.


Jean  17:22



Lita T  17:23

Oh, wow! What about a special...special family bond there.


Ron  17:28



Lita T  17:28

That's wonderful. Oh, wow.


Lauren  17:31

Yeah.  He wants to find like a treatment because he doesn't...he says he wants me to live life to the fullest!  And he doesn't want to see me suffer anymore.  So...


Lita T  17:48



Ron  17:48

Yeah.  Hey, Lauren, what..what role, I guess for lack of a better word, self care. What do you do for yourself every day?


Lita T  18:01

To help you get through this? Well...yeah...


Jean  18:03

Does ice or heat or swimming, you know, pool therapy...


Lita T  18:07

Is anything that makes you feel better.


Ron  18:09



Lauren  18:09

Well, I have a lot of arthritis in my hip especially. So, I like to do like...a warm shower. Or just any swimming or anything is really good for your joints and stuff.


Lita T  18:30



Ron  18:31



Jean  18:32

Yeah. actually we just we were speaking with someone a little bit ago. And she designed she's designing swimsuits.


Ron  18:39



Lita T  18:39



Jean  18:40

Adaptive swimwear because it's it's such a great


Ron  18:45



Jean  18:46

Yeah, they're such a great need. And there''s such a great thing to you know, a nice warm therapy pool is fantastic for almost everyone.


Lita T  18:55

Right. Lauren...well, you already mentioned that your...your brother wants to go into geneticists...geneti...seas


Jean  19:01



Lita T  19:01

I can't talk...not much at all.  Genetics to help you. What other help has your family or friends done to ah...


Jean  19:11

Along your healthcare journey?


Lita T  19:12

Yeah, to get you through your healthcare journey?


Ron  19:14

We are all struggling today.


Lita T  19:14

I'm just gonna stumble all over my words.


Lauren  19:16

Well, I have three people and health care in my family.


Jean  19:24



Lauren  19:24

So, they know a little bit about my disease. Now my mom is a nurse. So, she knows more about my condition than about like anything else.   Like she reads up on it, like a lot. And just having like a mom that knows. Like, from like a disease standpoint having a mom that knows what she's doing and's really helpful and encouraging!


Lita T  20:09

That's very important.  Yeah, that's fantastic! Very important. So good support.


Jean  20:13

Yeah. Yeah,


Lita T  20:14

Right. Could you tell our listeners: what's the best advice that you've heard to cope with having a rare disease? And what advice would you give to somebody that has been recently diagnosed with a rare disease?


Lauren  20:30

The best advice for me, I think, cuz I'm very short. Short. I'm 4'3",


Lita T  20:41



Lauren  20:42

So, it affected my growth.  So, lots of times my mom would


Jean  20:50



Lauren  20:50

 say: "Good things come in small packages!"


Jean  20:54



Ron  20:54



Lita T  20:54

I love that!  I love that! Yes, yes. Excellent, excellent.


Lauren  20:58

It's something that I believe is good.'s like...common.  A lot of people with rare  diseases say: "good things can come in small packages."


Ron  21:12



Lauren  21:12

And just for anybody that's been diagnosed, I would, I'm a, I would say that, like, if you weren't supposed to be here, God's the one who created you, and he has a purpose for every...everybody going through hard things in their life. At some point, everyone, everybody is going to go through something hard.  It's just, what are you going to do with the opportunity that God has given you?


Lita T  21:56

Very nice.


Ron  21:56



Jean  21:57

We're lucky to have someone out, you know, someone like you out there advocating for others. And, yeah, you're an inspiration!


Ron  22:04

That's definitely some great advice.


Lita T  22:05

Very nice!


Ron  22:06

Lauren, how can our listeners learn more about you? And do you have any social media accounts or anything like that, that you want to share with us?


Jean  22:06

Yep, thank you.


Lauren  22:17

Yeah, so I have an Instagram account. So, my username is: @stjude819. And then I'm also on Facebook. And I do have, like a private Facebook group on Galactosialidosis. It's  where, like people with my disease can go and we can share different things...from...about our disease that will really help other people!


Jean  22:59



Lita T  23:00

I will make sure that we put those links on our website so that others can can see those. That's wonderful. Thank you very much for for joining us today, Lauren.


Lauren  23:11

You're welcome


Ron  23:14

Well, again, we appreciate you sharing your story. I know we've learned a lot and I think the rest of our listeners have also learned a lot about Galacto.


Lita T  23:25

Right and good things come in small package.


Ron  23:28

Absolutely! That's some grate advice!


Lita T  23:30



Jean  23:30

Well, and I...I think Lita really likes that because she's a


Lita T  23:33

I'm short.


Jean  23:34

She's petite too.


Lita T  23:35



Jean  23:36

So um, yeah,


Lita T  23:37

I'm the shortest one in the household.


Jean  23:38



Ron  23:39

All right. If our listeners have any questions or comments related to today's show, they can always contact us at also to our website, They can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And as always, please keep in mind that this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regime and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on this podcast.


Lita T  24:27

Till next week.

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