Help us Fund Research to Treat and Cure TPP1 Deficiency

Atypical TPP1 Deficiency, CLN2, and Maya : Three Years later

Maya is very much a typical pre-teen who loves Meghan Trainor and Taylor Swift. However, in May of 2014, Maya was diagnosed with a rare disease called Atypical TPP1 Deficiency (aka SCAR7).  Atypical TPP1 Deficiency is a subset of Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 2 (CLN2), a form of Batten Disease.  At the time of her diagnosis, Maya was one of eight reported cases in the world. Since her diagnosis, we have learned of ten other people with this disorder.

Atypical TPP1 Deficiency and CLN2 are caused by mutations in the TPP1/CLN2 gene resulting in deficient activity of the enzyme tripeptidyl peptidase 1 (TPP1). In the absence of TPP1, lysosomal storage materials, normally metabolized by this enzyme, accumulate in many organs, particularly in the brain. Buildup of these storage materials in the cells of the nervous system contribute to progressive and relentless neurodegeneration which manifests as loss of cognitive, motor, and other functions.  Patients typically present initially with language delay followed by movement disorders, motor deterioration, dementia, and early death. During the later stages of the diseases, feeding and tending to everyday needs become very difficult.  Currently, there is no cure for TPP1 Deficiency or CLN2.

In May of 2016, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas announced the commencement of a new research project to explore treatments for Atypical TPP1 Deficiency.  This project is dependent upon Maya’s friends and family for funding.

Get Involved

  • To help fund the research project and to raise awareness about Atypical TPP1 Deficiency we ask that you make a donation directly to Texas Children’s Hospital.  You can do so by giving directly to Texas Children’s. If you donate from this page, funds go directly to the research project for Atypical TPP1 Deficiency/SCAR7.
  • We also ask that you order a #FightingForMaya T-Shirt.  You can do so by going to Once you receive your shirt, we ask that every Friday you show that you are #fightingformaya, by:
    • Wearing your shirt
    • Taking a Selfie
    • Adding the hashtag #fightingformaya
    • and sharing your pic with the world.

    Go crazy, be creative and have fun!!!

“The most beautiful thing about her is her smile. It’s infectious…”

Image via RareDaily.

Thank you for helping to show Maya and others that you stand with them in the fight to find a treatment and cure for Atypical TPP1 Deficiency.

Beau James

SCAR7 RareDisease Fighting for Maya dealing with TPP1 Deficiency Very Rare Disease

After a year of blood tests, spit tests, Exome sequencing and eventually a trip to Massachusetts General Maya had a diagnosis: ATYPICAL TPP1 DEFICIENCY or SCAR 7

Please help to get this to as many folks as possible.
I am hoping that social networking can help Maya.

After a year of blood tests, spit tests, Exome sequencing and eventually a trip to Massachusetts General Maya had a diagnosis: ATYPICAL TPP1 DEFICIENCY or SCAR 7.

For the past year, Maya’s family has been working with doctors to understand Maya “balance issues”.
This past spring, Maya received a diagnosis of Autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxia 7 (SCAR7) aka TPP1 Deficiency. SCAR7 is an extremely rare genetic disease. Maya is the 8th reported case in the world. At this stage we are trying to find more people with this disease. Below is a reblog of James’s blog post.
Please give it a read and share it with your network. When we find more people with this disease, then we will be able to get the necessary help from the pharmaceutical and research community.

Fighting For Maya

a blog post by beau james – Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Loaded for Bear – A Rare Disease Diagnosis

 “Loaded for Bear”, definition:  To be prepared, mentally and/or physically, for extreme opposition; typically used in reference to an aggressive or potentially violent situation.

The phrase originates with American hunters and woodsmen in regions frequented by the brown bear. Brown bears are the largest land-based predator on earth, and when expecting to deal with them the hunters would bring much more powerful rifles than they would if hunting other game.  Urban Dictionary
July 26, 2014
I just returned from Fedex.  I’ve been working on a letter for Biomarin‘s officers, board of directors and medical advisory board for the last couple of months.  I know…. a couple of months how ridiculous.  I write letters all the time, not just regular letters, but highly persuasive letters… letters that secure millions of dollars for my clients.  However, this letter was different.  The letter is an attempt to persuade a “corporation” to take an interest in Maya’s disease and perhaps save her life.
About a year and a half ago we realized that (our now 11 year old daughter) Maya’s “differences” were not normal.  When I held Maya’s and her brother’s hands on the way to class, it seemed weird that Maya always seemed to tug and pull on my hand.  It was such a contrast to the way her brother held my hand.
My mom commented that Maya seemed “off balance” and we should get her checked by a neurologist.
After months, we finally had an appointment.  The neurologist did a couple of basic tests as part of his examination (finger to nose, hop on one foot, walk across the room heal to toe) and it was very clear that something was very, very wrong.
The neurologist thought that the bouncing (lack of tracking) of Maya’s eyes was indicative of ataxia telangiectasia.  The blood work eventually said no.  The Athena Panel for known forms of Ataxia eventually came back inconclusive.   After a year of blood tests, spit tests, Exome sequencing and eventually a trip to Massachusetts General we had a diagnosis:
Some of you may recognize a “TPP1” mutation as the source of the most common Neuronoal Ceroid lipofuscinouses disease (NCL)… CLN2 or “Batten’s Disease”.  Batten’s Disease is a devastating disease and the parents and community who are fighting the fight are amazing loving people.  Learn More Here.
Maya does not have Batten’s, however her condition is caused by mutations in the same gene that causes Batten’s.  Effectively, Maya’s mutations of the TPP1 gene means that she has residual (~13% of normal) levels of TPP1 activity and kids with Batten’s have a roughly zero level of TPP1 activity.
Those of you in the Ataxia community will recognize SCAR 7 (Autosomal Recessive Spinocerebella Ataxia 7) as the type of Ataxia reported as occurring in six of twelve siblings from a Dutch family and one other unrelated Dutch woman.  All, as of the date of this blog, are alive and well in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.  According to the literature, their SCAR 7 has slowly progressed and several have lost the ability to walk.  We don’t know much more about their condition.
Guess what… Maya is not Dutch.  Outside of enjoying Dutch soccer, we don’t have a connection to the country.  My wife is from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and is of French Canadian ancestry and I am African American.
The Challenge.

Since Maya is the eighth reported SCAR7 case (in the world) she does not “have a community” and science/medicine is slow to catch up to  her reality.  They consider Maya’s phenotype as “mild”.

I beg to differ… there is nothing “mild” about watching your child slowly lose her ability to walk.  To watch your child struggle with her “differences” in school.  “Mild” provides little comfort, when she falls, when there is a new scar or when she cries, because she doesn’t understand why her body is revolting against her.

Maya sits between two powerful and mobilized communities in a sort of DMZ.  She is between the Batten’s Disease community (a group that is active and hopefully making progress towards meaningful treatment)… read more here and the Ataxia community which appears to believe that SCAR 7 is an ultra-rare disease only occurring in a single Dutch family.

In order to find a cure/help for Maya, we need to find more kids and adults with Maya’s exact phenotype/diagnosis.  The more we find, the more science, medicine and the respective communities will pay attention and join the fight.

Ultimately, answers to Maya’s condition will help the Batten’s community (i.e., determining the necessary therapeutic levels of TPP1 replacement enzymes for kids with Battens) and the Ataxia community (i.e., our path to a SCAR7 diagnosis was lucky… I suspect that there are a number of children and adults with Maya’s symptoms (or the natural progression thereof) who are simply un-diagnosed but have TPP1 mutations).

If you are out there, then we need to find you.

The Ask
Take a look at the notes from Maya’s visit to Mass General.  Are the symptoms familiar?  Yes, does it make sense for you to take a test for NCL mutations.  
Are you a match?
I look forward to meeting you…