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UCSF Research Team Tries To Unlock Lethal Neurological Disease

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The University of California at San Francisco Parnassus campus (UCSF)

The University of California at San Francisco Parnassus campus (UCSF)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD, is a devastating disease that takes away your life before it eventually ends it. A group at UCSF is one of the few teams in the country working towards a cure.

“We call CJD the great mimicker because, particularly early on, it looks like a lot of other neurological or psychiatric diseases,” said Dr. Michael Geschwind of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

Dr. Michael Geschwind describes the difficult to diagnose affliction as similar to Alzheimer’s, but in fast forward.

“Most people only live less than a year with this disease from first symptom to death. So it’s very rapid. I’ve seen some patients who have died in a matter of weeks,” he said.

The decline is constant but unpredictable. Most doctors have never seen a case of CJD – only about 300 people are diagnosed with it each year in the U.S. There are three different kinds-genetic, acquired and sporadic, has which means they don’t know how someone gets it. Because CJD is so rare, the research doesn’t get the money of AIDS or Cancer.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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