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Polygence Scholar2023
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Ishita Chopra

Class of 2025Fremont, California



  • "What are the benefits and harms of current and emerging treatments for Stiff Person Syndrome?" with mentor Alexander (Sept. 11, 2023)

Project Portfolio

What are the benefits and harms of current and emerging treatments for Stiff Person Syndrome?

Started June 22, 2023

Abstract or project description

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a rare autoimmune neurological disorder that causes muscle spasms and progressive muscle rigidity and stiffness. People with SPS develop antibodies that inhibit glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), an enzyme that helps produce the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Inhibition of GAD, leads to impaired synthesis and release of GABA, causing disinhibition of the central nervous system which results in muscle spasms and stiffness. SPS primarily affects the lower extremities and axial muscles, but depending on the disease's progression or subtype, other areas such as the arms or extraocular muscles may be affected. SPS is relatively uncommon only affecting about one in a million people. Like other autoimmune diseases, it mostly affects women. Treatment of SPS includes drugs like benzodiazepines, baclofen, and rituximab or therapies like intravenous immunoglobulin or plasma exchange. Despite advancements in diagnosis and treatment, there is still no clear-cut protocol for treatment for SPS, and management remains challenging for physicians. The purpose of this research paper is to provide an overview of SPS, review current treatment guidelines, and report on novel and emerging therapies.