Upstate News

July 21, 2005
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate hosts international conference on velo-cardio-facial syndrome July 29 to 31

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – International researchers will offer new insight into the latest challenges facing the treatment, diagnosis and understanding of the genetic disorder velo-cardio-facial syndrome (VCFS), also known as Shprintzen Syndrome, during the 11th Annual International Scientific Meeting of the Velo-Cardio Facial Syndrome Educational Foundation, to be held July 29 to 31 in Syracuse.

A key presentation at the conference will highlight current studies under way at SUNY Upstate Medical University examining the use of brain images to detect abnormal brain growth that may lead to a host of psychiatric disorders in children with VCFS. The incidence of psychiatric disorders in people diagnosed with VCFS may be as high as 1 in 4. The syndrome, which is caused by the deletion of genes from chromosome 22, is now seen as a model for studying how and what genes cause specific problems in people with VCFS and in the general public.

Currently about 130,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with VCFS. The syndrome causes a variety of symptoms, including cleft palate (the fourth leading birth defect), heart defects, abnormal facial appearance and learning problems.

“By being able to identify genes that may be responsible for mental illness and other VCFS abnormalities, such as congenital heart disease, we are moving ever closer to the development of new treatments for these diseases,” said SUNY Upstate’s Robert Shprintzen, Ph.D., who in 1978 was one of the first scientists to describe the syndrome.

The meeting will address numerous issues related to VCFS and its link to mental illness and behavioral problems. Physicians also will discuss the merits of using hypnosis to control anxiety, drug treatments for behavioral problems and how VCFS relates to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Also on tap will be discussions on the latest surgical treatments for palate and facial deformities.

More than 200 researchers, some from Australia, France, Israel, Mexico and Switzerland and adults with VCFS and parents of children with VCFS are expected to attend the conference that will be held at the Sheraton University Inn and Conference Center.

To access the conference program, visit http://www.vcfsef.org/Foundation/Conferences/2005/index.htm

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