Leading the worldwide fight to treat and cure
Tay-Sachs, Canavan, GM1 and Sandhoff diseases


Farber Disease Research

Farber Disease Research Overview

Farber is a very rare, progressive, and potentially life-threatening disease which happens when a fat (lipid) called ceramide builds up in the body. The buildup causes a wide range of severity and symptoms, making diagnosis difficult. A blood test can confirm the disease, and more treatment options are needed 1.

For more information, see All About Lysosomal Storage Disorders

For information on participating in a study, please visit Studies Recruiting Patients.


Where are we with Farber Research?

There are currently no treatment options for Farber disease. The only treatments available may temporarily address some of the symptoms, but don’t prevent the disease from getting worse 2.

Natural History Study

A natural history study is currently being conducted to better understand the presentation, likely course, and impact of Farber disease. All patients diagnosed with Farber disease are eligible, including both those who have and have not undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). Additionally, if you have had a loved one pass away who was diagnosed with Farber disease, their records are also eligible for this study and could help lead to a deeper understanding of the condition.

For more information about the trial, please visit clinicaltrials.gov and Studies Recruiting Patients.


Footnote Reference: 

  1. “Farber's Disease.” Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6426/farbers-disease.
  2. “Farber's Disease Information Page.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, American Journal of Diseases of Children. www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Farbers-Disease-Information-Page.




Evaluating Experimental Therapies and Clinical Trials (U.S. and Abroad)


  • Families have the tools and resources to evaluate experimental therapies
  • Families feel supported in all care choices
  • Families feel empowered to make informed choices they can feel good about

Questions to Ask

Where is therapy offered?
A US doctor providing therapy outside the US bypasses the FDA's standards of safety and efficacy, which are in place to protect patients. If the team offering the experimental therapy is so confident in their approach why bypass the FDA? Also ask who pays if there is a medical emergency while out of the country.

Is it IRB approved?
An Internal Review Board is an independent team of scientists and lay people who evaluate whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

How much does the experimental therapy cost?
Typically, there is little to no cost to participate in clinical trials that are IRB approved, and listed on ClinicalTrials.gov.

Potential Red Flags

  • Claims based on patient testimonials - Not reliable because sometimes patients want so much to believe that a treatment is helping them that they convince themselves that it has.

  • Multiple diseases treated with same treatment

  • Claims saying there is no risk - There is always risk. Information about the possible risks should be available from pre-clinical research.

  • High cost of treatment or hidden costs - It is not customary for someone to pay to be in a clinical trial (other than travel and personal expenses). Consider whether you should pay for a treatment that is unproven. Also, ask about the costs of emergency medical care if something goes wrong, particularly if you are outside the US.


ClinicalTrials.gov offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials. Only clinical trials that meet the site's rigorous scientific standards are listed.

PubMed provides free online search of peer reviewed original scientific papers.  Publishing work is an important part of the scientific process. It allows scientific peers to review the work and critique the approach. It is a concern when data is not published. Please contact the NTSAD office at (617) 277-4463 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in any particular paper. We are often able to access the full paper, and members of our Scientific Advisory Committee can provide insights into the quality of the paper, what the paper means in lay language and address the reputation of the publishing journal.

Ask the Experts
NTSAD is able to connect you directly with leading experts to provide their perspective. These world-class scientists will give you their expert, unbiased opinion on an experimental therapy so you are able to make the decision that is right for you and your family.

QuackWatch is an international network of people concerned about health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct. Search the website for information on the experimental therapy you are considering.  


Donating Tissue for Research

Tissue donation is an extremely personal and private decision. The donation of brain and other tissues is a precious gift that helps to advance meaningful research to find a cure. Donating tissue does not interfere with open casket viewing. There is no financial cost to the family, and the family can reconsider the decision at any time.

To learn more please contact our Director of Family Services, Diana Pangonis via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively, you can contact the following to donate frozen and/or paraffin tissue samples:

The UMB Brain and Tissue Bank
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
655 W. Baltimore Street, 13-013 BRB
Baltimore, MD 21201-1559
Phone: 1-800-847-1539 or 410-706-1755
Fax: 410-706-2128
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Scientific Meetings hosted by NTSAD

NTSAD has hosted six scientific meetings since NTSAD's Research Initiative was launched in 2002.  They have been held in conjunction with our Annual Family Conference.

Mechanisms and Interventions in Childhood
Neurodegenerative Diseases
March, 2011

This Symposium topic reflected the progress in the last 50+ years and the excitement about therapies in the future. The theme was inspired because brain gene therapy and other interventions are on the brink of being translated from animal models to human clinical trials.  The scientific questions addressed included the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases, methods available to penetrate the blood brain barrier and strategies for advancing potential therapies to clinical trials.  This meeting was made possible thanks to educational grant support by Shire, Genzyme Corporation, Pfizer, Inc., Amicus Therapeutics and The Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation.

New Topics in Lysosomal Storage Disease Therapies
April, 2009

Presenters included eight past and current NTSAD Research Initiative and LSD Research Consortium grantees.  The meeting goal was to examine new approaches in treating the central nervous system in the Lysosomal Storage Diseasess, including potential use of combination therapies. Presenters gave updates about their projects funded with the support of NTSAD.  The therapeutic approaches discussed included gene therapy, stem cell and small molecules.

Scientific Workshop, Glycosphingolipids in Health and Disease
April, 2006

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together scientists working in the fields of glycosphingolipid function in normal development with investigators interested in the pathogenesis of glycosphingolipid storage disorders. The workshop also addressed the approaches to therapy with the primary goal to review recent developments in the field and to identify research priorities and resources that will lead to successful therapies for these devastating diseases. The meeting was sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke and the Office of Rare Diseases of NIH, in collaboration with NTSAD.

Third Summit of the Allied Disease: The Gangliosidoses -
Past, Present and Future
April, 2005

Scientists presented an overview of glycosphingolipid biology, a historical perspective of population genetics, clinical perspective of evaluation, diagnosis and disease management, the relationship between patient/family with physician, genetic counseling and the role of the patient advocacy organization in the physician's practice. Patients and family also had the opportunity to share their experiences with infantile Tay-Sachs, GM-1, Juvenile Sandhoff and Late Onset Tay-Sachs. The meeting culminated with a discussion of treatment options today and in the future. The meeting was in collaboration with Tulane University Health Sciences Center and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Second Summit of the Allied Diseases: Technology for
Genetic Diseases of the CNS
April, 2004

The Second Summit of the Allied Diseases brought NTSAD's philosophy of collaboration and inclusiveness to biotech pharmaceutical companies. StemCells Inc, PTC Therapeutics, Amicus Therapeutics, LysoPlex and Genzyme Corporation shared their translational research developments. Attendees discussed the role of patient advocacy groups.

Summit Meeting of the Allied Diseases
April, 2002

In 2002 NTSAD marked its 45th anniversary year as the oldest genetic disease organization in the nation by bringing together leaders of the genetic disease community: clinicians, researchers, educators and patient advocacy groups to discuss the most recent developments in the field and to explore how to best advance the study and treatment of these rare disorders.  The summit meeting provided attendees with the opportunity to learn, to network and to consider ways in which we might work together to coordinate and consolidate our efforts in areas such as clinical care, genetic testing, research, therapy and advocacy.

Overview of Technology Approaches

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