Local Physicians Focused on Mysterious Children's Disease

Texas Biomed, Children's Hospital of San Antonio, and Baylor College of Medicine have joined forces to try to find the mysterious cause of Kawasaki's Disease, which affects small children and leaves them vulnerable to serious health conditions later in life, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Dr. Jean Patterson of Texas Biomed says Kawasaki's Disease, which is named after the physician who identified it more than fifty years ago, affects children between the ages of 3 and 5.  It causes the telltale 'strawberry tongue,' including reddening around the mouth and other symptoms.  

It isn't fatal, but she says it is dangerous.

"The problem is, you can go on to develop coronary artery aneurysms," she said.  "That means later in life, the person can develop an aneuyrism."

She says the bizarre thing about Kawasaki's Disease is...nobody knows where it comes from."It does appear that it should be an infectious agent, but we have never been able to identify any infectious agent associated with it."

Dr. Marc Gorlick, a pediatric rheumatologist with The Children's Hospital of San Antonio and Baylor College of Medicine, is focusing his research on the role of a specific protein in creating the coronary artery aneurysms in Kawasaki disease patients. He treats patients with Kawasaki disease in an outpatient clinic at the downtown hospital.

Gorelik started with just a few mice. Now, there are about 120 animals housed in a Biosafety Level 2 facility at Texas Biomed. He's using new technology to manipulate a gene and look at its impact on one particular protein that may be involved in damage to blood vessels.

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