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.

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

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“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.

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