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Vitamin-like substance leads to dramatic improvements in patients with muscular disorder

ing treatment they had improved by an average of 25 percent on an ataxia test of balance, speech, and movement. Before starting the therapy, five of the patients couldn't walk; afterward, all could walk with some assistance, such as a rolling walker.

Dr. DiMauro said future research will focus on pinpointing why these patients are CoQ10-deficient. CoQ10 preparations are available in health food stores but are expensive.

Hereditary ataxias are a wide family of disorders with a plethora of causes. Some have known genetic causes, but others are unexplained.

The variants with known genetic causes are probably not candidates for the CoQ10 treatment because their causes have nothing to do with CoQ10, Dr. DiMauro said. But this remains to be confirmed through research.

For the moment, it appears the CoQ10 treatment is best suited for patients with unexplained forms of ataxia. This is a fair number of patients, Dr. DiMauro said; just how many is unknown, as their numbers haven't been ascertained through epidemiological studies.

"This may not be rare," he added. Neurologists "often tell me that there are patients who do not fall into one of the identified genetic categories."


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Contact: Carolyn Conway-Hoare
cc328@columbia.edu
212-305-3900
Columbia University Medical Center
9-Apr-2001


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