Join us on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 6pm Eastern time as we host researcher, Dr. Rebekah Charney.
This event has been postponed due to illness – stay posted for updates on the new date/time.
Dr. Charney is a developmental and stem cell biologist currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California Riverside. Dr. Charney’s research focuses on the formation of cell types during early development and how changes in these processes can lead to birth defects. Her work makes use of human pluripotent stem cells to understand the formation and differentiation of neural crest cells – an embryonic stem cell population that contributes to a wide range of cell types throughout the human body. Dr. Charney received her Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine in 2016. She is the recipient of multiple early career awards from the National Institutes of Health, including a Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Postdoctoral National Research Service Award and a Pathway to Independence Award, and was the recipient of a 2015 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders award from the Association of American Colleges & Universities.
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Released November 1, 2021
The Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation has released a short educational video to help family caregivers share valuable information about their adult/child with Mowat-Wilson Syndrome (MWS), which is a rare genetic disorder. The video includes information and perspectives from Drs. Mowat and Wilson, who identified the syndrome in 1998, and Jackie Arnold, the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was diagnosed with MWS in 2010.
Because MWS is so rare, many teachers, therapists, dentists, friends, neighbors, and respite caregivers may have never heard of this disease and find it difficult to interact with individuals with MWS for the first time. In the video, Drs. Mowat and Wilson share information about MWS, its incidence rate, clinical manifestations, and care management. Additionally, Jackie shares deeply personal information about her son’s personality, social disposition, love of school and sports, and how he communicates using adaptive technology.
This video can be used by families affected by MWS to share information about this rare disease with their care management team, educators, and community members. It is our hope that as others learn more about MWS and individuals with MWS, they will feel more comfortable, leading to more productive interactions and outcomes.
The Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation would like to thank Dr. David Mowat, Dr. Meredith Wilson and Jackie Arnold for contributing to the video. Lee Corbett and Tracy Nelson from Cognetix Learning and Dave VanBlarcom from the Think Media Group graciously donated their time, effort and expertise to produce this important video, and the Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation is extremely grateful for this major donation.
Join us on Thursday, October 7th, 2021 at 11 am Eastern time as we host researcher, Sumantra Chatterjee, a Research Assistant Professor at the Centre for Human Genetics and Genomics in NYU Grossman School of Medicine, New York. Sumantra has trained both as a developmental biologist and a human geneticist studying complex congenital diseases. His work on Hirschsprung disease uncovered how multiple genes and mutations are interconnected, which helped to explain the severity of the disease observed in different patients and help classify patients better.
Dr. Chatterjee will provide a brief overview of this research and what it means for MWS patients and families. We will also have a question/answer period for anyone with specific questions.
Watch all videos from the “Meet the Reasearcher” Series
Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Growth Charts
Male & Female | Height | Weight | BMI | Head Circumference
Mowat–Wilson syndrome (MWS; OMIM #235730) is a genetic condition caused by heterozygous mutations or deletions of the ZEB2 gene. It is characterized by moderate-severe intellectual disability, epilepsy, Hirschsprung disease and multiple organ malformations of which congenital heart defects and urogenital anomalies are the most frequent ones. To date, a clear description of the physical development of MWS patients does not exist. The aim of this study is to provide up-to-date growth charts specific for infants and children with MWS. Charts for males and females aged from 0 to 16 years were generated using a total of 2865 measurements from 99 MWS patients of different ancestries. All data were collected through extensive collaborations with the Italian MWS association (AIMW) and the MWS Foundation. The GAMLSS package for the R statistical computing software was used to model the growth charts. Height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and head circumference were compared to those from standard international growth charts for healthy children.
Guidelines and Recommendations for Families Affected by MWS
The Mowat-Wilson Foundation has received a number of questions about how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may affect individuals with MWS. We hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy. During this time, the best source to turn to for information about your family member with MWS is your family member’s primary care physician, who will know your family member’s medical history, as well as local/state guidelines for protection against getting COVID-19.
The Mowat-Wilson Medical Advisory Board also realizes that many families are concerned about the risks of contracting COVID-19 and how this virus may affect their relatives with MWS differently. Individuals with underlying health conditions (including cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune problems, to name a few) are thought to be at increased risk of having a more difficult time fighting off the virus, although age is also thought to be a factor, with individuals under age 20 years accounting for many fewer serious infections or deaths compared to those older than age 40 years. However, these are generalizations, and each individual is unique, as is the risk in each community based on local/geographic factors.
Many are wondering when it will be “safe” to return to some types of typical activities (i.e. going out in public, etc.). We encourage all families to be aware of their local/state/county/country guidelines regarding social distancing, the need to wear masks in public, and the slow reopening of businesses/schools. If an individual is unable to abide by the social distancing and/or mask requirements or recommendations, it may not be in their best interest to be about in larger public areas, even if those areas have been reopened. Additionally, individuals who explore their environment using their mouth (putting objects into their mouth) may have an increased risk of becoming infected with the virus if they are placed back into a daycare or school setting, particularly if that setting includes other individuals with special needs who also explore the environment using their mouth.
The medical factors that lead to a worse outcome are not completely known, although some underlying health conditions seems to predispose individuals to being sicker. While we do not know all factors that may lead to more severe illness or death, some factors that could increase this risk and are more specific to individuals with MWS are the following:
1. Those with a history of previous blood clots or clotting issues. This is rare in individuals with MWS.
2. Those with absent spleen or who have been told that their splenic function is not normal. Fortunately, most individuals with MWS do not have a known problem with their immune system.
3. Those with congenital heart defects; discussion of the actual heart defect and specific risks would need to take place in conjunction with the affected person’s primary care physician and cardiologist.
4. Any person with obesity (also, extremely uncommon in individuals with MWS).
5. Any person with baseline breathing issues (also rare in those with MWS who do not have a congenital heart defect).
Individuals with MWS may also be at increased risk for various types of “accidents” (including having a seizure, falling, etc.) that could put them in contact with first responders or other individuals in the general community who are trying to help. Before returning to more normal activities (school, daycare, day programs, etc.), it would be ideal for families to have a contingency plan in place on how to handle each risk-related event based on the individual’s risk factors and history and on how to address these issues with contact with others in the school setting and elsewhere. Then if “accidents” occur, there is a plan in place to address the individual’s needs without excessive exposure to others and the environment.
Many individuals with MWS have a history of seizures or currently have a seizure disorder that is treated with medication. Even if your affected family member does not have a history of seizures, we encourage you to read the statement below, as it applies to many individuals with chronic health conditions who may be taking prescription medication. The following is an excerpt from a statement put out by the American Epilepsy Society:
“The American Epilepsy Society (AES) urges its members and their patients to be aware and cautious while keeping the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in perspective. In addition to monitoring US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statements and directives, healthcare providers (HCPs) should closely monitor statements and actions of state and local health departments.
Patients should be instructed to work with their HCP’s office and pharmacy to initiate prescription refills at least one week before they anticipate running out of medications for 30-day prescriptions and at least two weeks in advance for 90-day prescriptions. While not always possible under payer practices, where feasible and warranted by individual patient situations, HCPs may wish to consider writing 90-day rather than 30-day supplies of medications to ensure that patients have a sufficient quantity of medications on hand.
In a reminder of usual best practice, providers should encourage patients to work with their pharmacists to synchronize prescription refills of all medications, not just antiseizure medications. In addition, patients should be advised to discuss home delivery options with their pharmacy. These measures can minimize public exposure, in the event that public health authorities limit travel or public activities. Epilepsy centers and HCPs should also consider readiness for utilizing remote care options, if possible; i.e., telephone, telehealth, and electronic health record (EHR) messaging.
Viral illnesses may be a trigger for seizures for some, and patients should have an up-to-date plan for managing breakthrough seizures. If medications are involved in this plan, patients should ensure that they have a supply of these medications on hand, with expiration dates at least six months away.
Health professionals may wish to monitor drug shortages via the FDA Drug Shortages web page or the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) drug shortage tracking system which can now be integrated into EHR systems.
Additional advice for patients with epilepsy and their families is provided on the Epilepsy Foundation web page, Concerns about Coronavirus. AES will continue to monitor the impact on its members and their patients of the COVID-19 situation and will update information and guidance as needed.”
We know this is a stressful time for everyone and we hope that you and your family stay healthy.
MWS Community Advisory Board Established. Members Selected.
The MWS Foundation recently established our first Community Advisory Board (CAB). The idea behind the CAB is to put in place a more efficient process to gain input from the MWS community. We have selected 14 members (10 U.S. and 4 International) from the MWS community to begin serving a 2-year term. These CAB members will be asked to provide input/ideas/suggestions to the MWS Foundation thru participation in conference calls, email communications/surveys and individual one-on-one phone calls with Foundation Board Members. In order to do this, they will interact with their own networks within the MWS community to share information and gain feedback/input that can be shared with the MWS Foundation.
- Laura J Windsor – Clinton/Suitland, Maryland, USA
- Mallorie Brown – Westford, Massachusetts, USA
- Amanda Rice – Ammon, Idaho USA
- Jodie Hughes – San Pedro, CA, USA
- Erin Hawthorne – Long Beach, MS, USA
- Carrie Avila-Mooney – Renton, Washington, USA
- Dann Hauser – Medford, Oregon, USA
- Barb Andrews – Norwalk, Ohio, USA
- Jennifer Farrell – Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA.
- Kim Jachim-Mellenthin – Palos Park, Illinois, USA
- Carolina Foresti – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Shelley Clarke – New Zealand
- Sherran Mitchell – Myrtleford, Victoria, Australia.
- Rui Negrão – Lisbon, Portugal
Please join us in congratulating them and thanking them for supporting the MWS Foundation and helping us to better meet the needs of our MWS family.
The MWSF board has decided not to delay the inevitable. The 2020 International Conference is officially cancelled. As upsetting as this is, we feel that we must act now to allow everyone to move ahead with the necessary cancellation of travel plans, etc. Registrations will be refunded as soon as possible. Please bear with us as we work to develop a new date for our conference. For those of you who have booked travel, we will be working to come up with an official cancellation notice that may help when you contact your airline. Please email me at email@example.com
Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation