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Once Upon A Gene

Once Upon A Gene

True stories of raising rare kiddos

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From Cancer Biologist to Rare Disease Mom – Digging Into the Data to Better Understand SCN8A with Madeleine Oudin PhD – Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts

ONCE UPON A GENE - EPISODE 172 From Cancer Biologist to Rare Disease Mom - Digging Into the Data to Better Understand SCN8A with Madeleine Oudin PhD - Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts Madeleine Oudin is a scientist and Tiampo Family Assistant Professor at Tufts University. Her daughter Margo has two de novo mutations in the SCN8A gene, which causes epilepsy. She's navigating life as a rare, working mom and sharing her knowledge in an understandable and accessible way for other rare parents.  EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS Can you tell us about the epilepsy conference you just attended? The SCN8 community organizes the conference for clinicians, researchers and families every year at the American Epilepsy Society meeting. There were over 35 families in attendance who have children with SCN8A and it was amazing to meet everyone in real life. What advice do you have for parents who aren't sure about attending a conference? Meeting other people has made a big difference for me and I encourage others to find their people. Going to gatherings can lead to finding resources and there's value in connecting to others and learning more about a disease. Community is everything. As a scientist and now a rare parent, how do you look through the microscope differently? The impact of genetic testing surprised me in how vital it is when it comes to rare genetic diseases. When Margo had her first seizure and had genetic testing, the results helped to connect us to community. Genetic testing is vital for families to connect them to resources. What work have you done in the SCN8A community to help other families understand the disease and advance the treatment progress? Science communication is something I'm passionate about. Since becoming a rare mom, I started an Instagram account where I explain the science of the diagnosis and break it down so the information is accessible to everyone. I recently did a webinar breaking down the different treatment strategies for SCN8A.  Can you talk about Margo's acceptance to n-Lorem? We applied with our neurologist and were accepted into the foundation to develop custom Antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) treatments. In parallel, we're doing treatments in my lab on a mouse and mouse cells, testing out different ASOs to see if we can gain any additional insights. LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED ONCE UPON A GENE - Episode 139 - Remember Who You Are https://effieparks.com/podcast/139-remember-who-you-are Margot_thebrave on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/margot_thebrave/ SCN8A Alliance   https://scn8aalliance.org/ American Epilepsy Society https://www.ilae.org/ The n-lorem Foundation https://www.nlorem.org/ SCN8A Unraveled https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-RngxzecxdLsaJFQyerqqfGLarDe9MUt TUNE INTO THE ONCE UPON A GENE PODCAST Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/5Htr9lt5vXGG3ac6enxLQ7 Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/once-upon-a-gene/id1485249347 Stitcher https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/once-upon-a-gene Overcast https://overcast.fm/itunes1485249347/once-upon-a-gene CONNECT WITH EFFIE PARKS Website https://effieparks.com/ Twitter https://twitter.com/OnceUponAGene Instagram https://www.instagram.com/onceuponagene.podcast/?hl=en Built Ford Tough Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1877643259173346/ Interested in advertising on Once Upon a Gene? Email [email protected] for more information!
February 2, 2023

Never Give Up – Two Decades of Struggles From Diagnosing Their Children to Starting a Clinical Trial For Aspartylglucosaminuria with Rare Mom Julia Taravella

ONCE UPON A GENE - EPISODE 171 Never Give Up - Two Decades of Struggles From Diagnosing Their Children to Starting a Clinical Trial For Aspartylglucosaminuria with Rare Mom Julia Taravella Julia Taravella is a mom to two adult children, Alexander and Daniel, and she's the founder of the Rare Trait Hope Fund. Julia's sons didn't have a diagnosis for 16 years until she went above and beyond to seek out answers and use the genetic data available to her to reveal a diagnosis of Aspartylglucosaminuria (AGU), a rare, fatal, lysosomal storage disorder.  EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS Can you tell us about your sons and their diagnosis journey? Alexander and Daniel are 22 and 27. In kindergarten and first grade, Daniel was doing below average. Daniel was 5 years old when his brother Alexander was born. Alexander started early intervention, but started to have the same delays as Daniel. Having two children presenting the same developmental delays, I suspected it was genetic, but it was difficult to get genetic testing at that time. I sought consultations with physicians and specialists, the boys underwent testing, and all results revealed they were within the expected range. A direct-to-consumer genetic test came out on the market and I bought two of them for my husband and I, figuring there may be something uncovered through our DNA. We went on to test both kids and close relatives too and the results were inconclusive. I dug deeper by downloading all of the data from the testing website and went back to doctors with it, but I wasn't taken seriously. I found a person in bioinformatics who agreed to analyze and clean up the data. When the data was returned, I took genetics classes for 6 months, wrote a program to analyze the data and determined my sons had AGU. The diagnosis was confirmed by doctors through further blood and urine testing. What did you do after getting a diagnosis?  I attended a conference and connected with new families with other glycoprotein lysosomal diseases and it helped to meet them. I had hope that something could be done and I frantically started writing emails to anyone I could find in the published AGU literature. I wrote about 200 emails and through those emails I connected with a Finnish doctor who invited me to go to Finland to meet with her. We stopped in Germany on the way and connected with a biochemist to discuss potential treatment options.  What should everyone watch out for when developing gene therapy programs? It's important to have a signed sponsorship agreement about how research and funding is handled without knowing what you'll get in return. Take small steps and don't invest everything you've raised at once to test if you'll receive the results you want within the time frame you've set. Step-by-step developments will help develop a rapport with your researcher to develop trust and gain understanding about where funding goes. Also be sure to understand who is working on what and maintain open lines of communication with everyone. LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED Rare Trait Hope Fund https://www.raretrait.com/ 23andMe https://www.23andme.com/ ONCE UPON A GENE - EPISODE 154 - A Groundbreaking Gene Therapy In Record Time to Cure His Son with SPG50 Sets a New Course For Future Rare Disease Treatments with Terry Pirovalakis https://effieparks.com/podcast/episode-154-terry-pirovolakis-groundbreaking-gene-therapy CONNECT WITH EFFIE PARKS Website https://effieparks.com/ Twitter https://twitter.com/OnceUponAGene Instagram https://www.instagram.com/onceuponagene.podcast/?hl=en Built Ford Tough Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1877643259173346/ Interested in advertising on Once Upon a Gene? Email [email protected] for more information!
January 26, 2023

Effisode – Seizures Are Stupid

Intro music by Scott Holmes
January 24, 2023

A Rare Collection – New Beginnings

ONCE UPON A GENE - EPISODE 170 A Rare Collection - New Beginnings There's power in storytelling- for the listener and the storyteller. A Rare Collection is a monthly series featuring people from the rare disease community, sharing a story with a common theme.  EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS Noelle When your child has a progressive, degenerative disease, you learn that every moment is precious and to roll with the punches. My son Logan has a rare genetic disorder called Sanfilippo Syndrome, a progressive and fatal disorder that causes mental and physical deterioration. Children lose the ability to perform skills such as walking, talking and swallowing. There's not currently a treatment or cure. The day Logan was diagnosed, I learned life doesn't always go as planned. The picture perfect future planned in my head was gone. I grieved my child and the future I thought we would have. I was scared of the new future and I closed myself off emotionally. I can't change what the future holds for Logan, but I don't want to miss up on feeling the love, joy, and even the sadness that comes along with this new beginning. I live in the moment and when something goes wrong in life, I yell "plot twist" and move on.  Frances In Emily Rapp Black's memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, she describes parents of terminally ill children as dragon parents. Like medieval map makers inscribing unknown regions of the world, we represent a parent's worst fear- the grief of receiving a death sentence for their child. My daughter Violet passed all of her newborn screenings in the hospital, but I soon became concerned with how sleepy she was and how difficult she was to feed. Our pediatrician referred us to a neurologist who ordered a brain ultrasound and genetic testing, but the results didn't offer any answers. With more symptoms developing, I sought out more opinions and Violet was finally diagnosed with a rare and fatal mitochondrial disease called pyruvate dehydrogenase complex deficiency (PDCD). My transition and new beginning as a dragon mom had already begun as I flew around every last corner of the internet hunting for answers, ready to breathe fire upon anyone who tried to harm my daughter. Violet is a powerful unicorn teacher and I am her fierce and loyal dragon. Patrick My son Calum has rare chromosome abnormalities. His first seizure was scary and opened a chapter full of new beginnings. As his dad, this chapter taught me to be grateful and to have a perspective that allows me to celebrate every moment I can. Calum's first seizure was an awakening. I realized that I needed more opportunities and experiences with my kids and to focus more on them and less on myself and my work. We celebrate every day like the new day it is and Calum has given me that perspective. CONNECT WITH EFFIE PARKS Website https://effieparks.com/ Twitter https://twitter.com/OnceUponAGene Instagram https://www.instagram.com/onceuponagene.podcast/?hl=en Built Ford Tough Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1877643259173346/
January 19, 2023

Happiness Is Meant to Be Shared with Author, Storyteller, and NEMO Dadvocate Andrés Treviño

ONCE UPON A GENE - EPISODE 169 Happiness Is Meant to Be Shared with Author, Storyteller, and NEMO dadvocate Andrés Treviño Andrés Treviño is a dadvocate, author and storyteller. His story is full of twists and turns and even moving across countries to save his child. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at the Global Genes Patient Advocacy Summit and I'm thrilled that you get to meet him too, because happiness is meant to be shared. EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS Can you tell us where your story begins? Andy and Sophia are the reason I got into advocacy. Andy was born in Mexico City with a condition called NEMO in 1999. Within 48 hours of birth, he developed a life-threatening infection and he wasn't able to fight the infection without IV antibiotics. My wife and I quickly became experts in extreme parenting, living in the hospital for almost 1000 days with Andy, battling infections of his nervous system, bones, GI tract, sinus and skin. We found a hopeful solution in moving to Boston. In Mexico City, we received a diagnosis of bad luck, but after a couple months at Boston Children's Hospital, we got a real diagnosis and real answers. In 2004, our daughter Sophia was born. Cells were gathered from her umbilical cord and at a couple months old, additional blood was taken from her bone marrow. The bone marrow and umbilical cord stem cells were used in a complex procedure to replace Andy's affected cells.  How are Andy and Sophia now? Andy is 23 and graduating college in December. He is studying Communications. Sophia just recently started college. They have a very special bond. We also have a third daughter Tanya who is 13 and a blessing.  What motivated your decision to do the work you're doing? My career was originally in professional communications, but after what we lived through, I wanted to help others facing similar situations and facing rare disease. I get to meet so many people in the rare disease community that inspire me with their resiliency.  What are your tips for someone who wants to tell their story? Think of six words that explain your story, like "happiness is meant to be shared", which is what I use to share my story. This gives you a starting point. Canned stories, or those that are read from a script, doesn't convey a story told from the heart. A raw story is sharing something very difficult and emotional which makes listeners feel bad for you, but it doesn't leave them compelled to do something. A well-told story is crafted, moments are selected to connect with the audience and practiced instead of read. Positive stories move people and make others feel hope.  LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED The Disorder Channel https://www.thedisordercollection.com/ Andy & Sofia: Stem cells, scientific miracles and one fit savior https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Sofia-scientific-miracles-savior/dp/0615422373 Living Proof Advocacy  https://www.livingproofadvocacy.com/ TUNE INTO THE ONCE UPON A GENE PODCAST Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/5Htr9lt5vXGG3ac6enxLQ7 Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/once-upon-a-gene/id1485249347 Stitcher https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/once-upon-a-gene Overcast https://overcast.fm/itunes1485249347/once-upon-a-gene CONNECT WITH EFFIE PARKS Website https://effieparks.com/ Twitter https://twitter.com/OnceUponAGene Instagram https://www.instagram.com/onceuponagene.podcast/?hl=en Built Ford Tough Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1877643259173346/ Interested in advertising on Once Upon a Gene? Email advertising@bloodstreammedia.com for more information!
January 12, 2023

Effisode – The Friendship Circle

Intro music by Scott Holmes
January 10, 2023

Once Upon A Gene

This is a space I created to share the stories of our not so typical lives. Raising kids who are born with rare genetic syndromes and other types of disabilities can feel pretty isolating. What I know for sure is that when we can find others who 'get it,' we can find a lot more laughter, a lot more hope and feel a lot less alone.
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Host

Effie Parks

Effie Parks

Effie Parks was born in the magical land of Montana, where she was raised with her 12 loving siblings. After moving to Washington and marrying her husband, they were blessed with the birth of their son, Ford Canon Parks. When she learned that Ford had been born with an extremely rare genetic condition – CTNNB1 syndrome – she dove into the world of advocacy. Now, she is the host of her own podcast, Once Upon a Gene, where she speaks to others about their journey through life with rare disease.

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