Canavan disease

noun Can·a·van disease \ ˈka-nə-ˌvan- \
variants: or less commonly Canavan's disease play \ˈka-nə-ˌvanz-\

Definition of Canavan disease

:a rare, usually fatal, demyelinating disease of infancy that is characterized by spongy degeneration of the brain caused by an enzyme deficiency and that typically affects individuals of eastern European Jewish ancestry
  • … was diagnosed before he turned 5 months old with Canavan disease—a rare neurological disorder in which genes don't produce the protective myelin in the brain, causing the brain's white matter to degenerate into spongy tissue riddled with microscopic fluid-filled spaces.
  • —Burt Constable
Note: Canavan disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait requiring that both parents pass on a copy of the defective gene on a chromosome other than a sex chromosome.

Origin and Etymology of canavan disease

after Myrtelle May Canavan †1953 U.S. pathologist


Medical Dictionary

Canavan disease

noun Can·a·van disease \ ˈkan-ə-ˌvan- \
variants: also Canavan's disease play \-ˌvanz-\

medical Definition of Canavan disease

:a rare usually fatal demyelinating disease of infancy that is characterized by spongy degeneration of the brain caused by an enzyme deficiency inherited as an autosomal recessive trait and that typically affects individuals of eastern European Jewish ancestry

Biographical Note for canavan disease

  • Canavan, Myrtelle May (1879–1953), American pathologist. Canavan served as a pathologist for Boston State Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. She also held positions on the faculty of Boston medical schools. Her areas of research included chronic manganese poisoning, enostosis, the pathology of the mentally retarded, and the mental health of the offspring of schizophrenics. She described Canavan disease in 1931.

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