GOSR2, North Sea myoclonus and the Haithabu variant

Wall Street. Between the 8th and 11th century, Haithabu (Hebedy), a Viking town in Northern Germany close to the border to Denmark was the Manhattan of its time – a flourishing trading town located at a busy shipping route at a natural short passage connecting the Eider and the Treene river, a precursor of the modern-day Kiel canal. The  Vikings used this shortcut to avoid the dangerous Skagerak when heading West on their conquests. When subsequently settling down in many regions of the North Sea coast, they carried their genetic heritage with them, including a rare variant in the GOSR2 gene, which results in a devastating epilepsy when homozygous. A recent paper in Brain now delineates the phenotype of the “North Sea” progressive myoclonus epilepsy. Continue reading

Traveling with Lennox – myoclonic jerks, West Syndrome and the 34th meridian

Where is West Syndrome? Earlier this week while browsing through the contents of Lennox’s book, I wondered where his description of West Syndrome was hidden. Lennox is very careful in reviewing the historical data on epilepsy, but for some reason, he did not mention the report by William James West, who described a particular type of epilepsy in his own son that would later be named after him. Then, when I had almost forgotten that I was on the lookout for West Syndrome, I stumbled upon it in the chapter on myoclonic seizures. Continue reading