Ataxia-telangiectasia is a rare, childhood neurological disorder that causes degeneration
in the part of the brain that controls motor movements and speech. Its most unusual
symptom is an acute sensitivity to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays or gamma-rays.
The first signs of the disease, which include delayed development of motor skills,
poor balance, and slurred speech, usually occur during the first decade of life.
Telangiectasia (tiny, red "spider" veins), which appear in the corners of the eyes
or on the surface of the ears and cheeks, are characteristic of the disease, but
are not always present and generally do not appear in the first years of life. About
20% of those with A-T develop cancer, most frequently acute lymphocytic leukaemia
Many individuals with A-T have a weakened immune system, making them susceptible
to recurrent respiratory infections. Other features of the disease may include mild
diabetes mellitus, premature graying of the hair, difficulty swallowing, and delayed
physical and sexual development. Children with A-T usually have normal or above normal
Treatment There is no cure for A-T and, currently, no way to slow the
progression of the disease. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Physical and
occupational therapy may help maintain flexibility. Speech therapy may also be needed.
Gamma-globulin injections may be given to help supplement a weakened immune system.
High-dose vitamin regimens may also be used.
Alzheimer's disease is a physical disease affecting the brain. During the course
of the disease, plagues' and ‘tangles' develop in the structure of the brain, leading
to the death of brain cells.