Disease at a Glance

Summary
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) affects the thalamus, the part of the brain that controls the sleep-wake cycle. The most common symptoms are sleep disturbance, psychiatric problems, weight loss, and balance problems. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, excess sweating, and difficulty controlling body temperature. These symptoms tend to get worse over time. Almost all cases of FFI occur due to a specific variant in the PRNP gene and are inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, clinical exam, sleep study, and imaging studies. The results of genetic testing can help confirm the diagnosis.
Resource(s) for Medical Professionals and Scientists on This Disease:

About Fatal familial insomnia

Many rare diseases have limited information. Currently GARD aims to provide the following information for this disease:

  • Population Estimate:Fewer than 1,000 people in the U.S. have this disease.
  • Symptoms:May start to appear as an Adult.
  • Cause:This condition is caused by a change in the genetic material (DNA).
  • Organizations:Patient organizations are available to help find a specialist, or advocacy and support for this specific disease.
  • Categories:Neurological DiseaseGenetic Disease
When Do Symptoms of Fatal familial insomnia Begin?
Symptoms of this disease may start to appear as an Adult.

The age symptoms may begin to appear differs between diseases. Symptoms may begin in a single age range, or during several age ranges. The symptoms from some diseases may begin at any age. Knowing when symptoms began to appear can help medical providers find the correct diagnosis.
Prenatal
Before Birth
Newborn
Birth-4 weeks
Infant
1-23 months
Child
2-11 years
Adolescent
12-18 years
Adult Selected
19-65 years
Older Adult
65+ years
Symptoms may start to appear as an Adult.

Symptoms

This information is currently in development. 

Causes

Genetic Disease

Fatal familial insomnia is a genetic disease, which means that it is caused by one or more genes not working correctly.

Disease-causing variants, or differences, in the following gene(s) are known to cause this disease: PRNP

What Is a Gene?

Inheritance

All individuals inherit two copies of most genes. The number of copies of a gene that need to have a disease-causing variant affects the way a disease is inherited. This disease is inherited in the following pattern(s):

Autosomal Dominant Inheritance

Advocacy and Support Groups

How Can Patient Organizations Help?

Patient organizations can help patients and families connect. They build public awareness of the disease and are a driving force behind research to improve patients' lives. They may offer online and in-person resources to help people live well with their disease. Many collaborate with medical experts and researchers.

Services of patient organizations differ, but may include:

  • Ways to connect to others and share personal stories
  • Easy-to-read information
  • Up-to-date treatment and research information
  • Patient registries
  • Lists of specialists or specialty centers
  • Financial aid and travel resources

Please note: GARD provides organizations for informational purposes only and not as an endorsement of their services. Please contact an organization directly if you have questions about the information or resources it provides.

Patient Organizations

5 Organizations

Organization Name

Who They Serve

Helpful Links

Country

People With

Fatal Familial Insomnia

Helpful Links
Country

United States

People With

Rare Diseases

Helpful Links
Country

United States

People With

Rare Diseases

Helpful Links
Country

United States

People With

Rare Diseases

Helpful Links
Country

United States

People With

Rare Diseases

Helpful Links
Country

United States

Participating in Clinical Studies

Clinical studies are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances, including rare diseases. Participating in research helps researchers ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human diseases.

What Are Clinical Studies?

  1. Clinical trials determine if a new test or treatment for a disease is effective and safe by comparing groups receiving different tests/treatments.
  2. Observational studies involve recording changes over time among a specific group of people in their natural settings.
Learn more about the different types of clinical studies, consent forms, questions you should ask before participating in clinical studies, and the difference between research and medical treatment.

Why Participate in Clinical Studies?

How Do You Find the Right Clinical Study?

  • Use ClincalTrials.gov button below to search for studies by disease, terms, or country.
  • Consult doctors, other trusted medical professionals, and patient organizations.
  • Enroll in databases to allow researchers from participating institutions to find you.

What if There Are No Available Clinical Studies?

What Are Clinical Studies?

  1. Clinical trials determine if a new test or treatment for a disease is effective and safe by comparing groups receiving different tests/treatments.
  2. Observational studies involve recording changes over time among a specific group of people in their natural settings.
Learn more about the different types of clinical studies, consent forms, questions you should ask before participating in clinical studies, and the difference between research and medical treatment.

Why Participate in Clinical Studies?

How Do You Find the Right Clinical Study?

  • Use ClincalTrials.gov button below to search for studies by disease, terms, or country.
  • Consult doctors, other trusted medical professionals, and patient organizations.
  • Enroll in databases to allow researchers from participating institutions to find you.

What if There Are No Available Clinical Studies?

ClinicalTrials.gov, an affiliate of NIH, provides current information on clinical research studies in the United States and abroad. Talk to a trusted doctor before choosing to participate in any clinical study. We recommend checking this site often and searching for studies with related terms/synonyms to improve results.
Please contact GARD if you need help finding additional information or resources on rare diseases, including clinical studies. Our Information Specialists are available to you by phone or by filling out our contact form. Note, GARD cannot enroll individuals in clinical studies.
ClinicalTrials.gov, an affiliate of NIH, provides current information on clinical research studies in the United States and abroad. Talk to a trusted doctor before choosing to participate in any clinical study. We recommend checking this site often and searching for studies with related terms/synonyms to improve results.
Please contact GARD if you need help finding additional information or resources on rare diseases, including clinical studies. Our Information Specialists are available to you by phone or by filling out our contact form. Note, GARD cannot enroll individuals in clinical studies.

Take steps toward getting a diagnosis by working with your doctor, finding the right specialists, and coordinating medical care.

Last Updated: February 2023