Niemann-Pick Disease is one of a group of lysosomal storage diseases that affect metabolism and that are caused by genetic mutations. The three most commonly recognized forms are Niemann-Pick Types A and B (ASMD or Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency) and Niemann-Pick Disease Type C (NPC).Niemann- Pick disease Type A and B occur due to the deficiency of an enzyme called acid sphingomyelinase (ASM). This enzyme is required for breaking down sphingomyelin, which is a product of fat metabolism. The lack of ASM leads to the collection of sphingomyelin or cholesterol in the body. Niemann-Pick disease Type C arises due to a defect in cholesterol and glycolipid transport mechanisms. According to another classification, Niemann-Pick disease is classified into two types: Niemann-Pick disease, SMPD1-associated (which includes Type A and Type B disease), and Niemann-Pick disease, Type C.
Bone marrow transplants have been done on a few patients with type B with encouraging results. Researchers continue to study possible treatments, including enzyme replacement and gene therapy. There is no specific treatment for type D. A new medicine called miglustat is available for the nervous system symptoms of type C. A healthy, low-cholesterol diet is recommended. However, research does not show that these methods stop the disease from getting worse or change how cells break down cholesterol. However, medicines are available to control or relieve many symptoms, such as sudden loss of muscle tone and seizures.Niemann–Pick diseases are a subgroup of lipid storage disorders called sphingolipidoses in which harmful quantities of fatty substances, or lipids, accumulate in the spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow, and brain. Results of a survey shows the extrapolation of Prevalence Rate of Niemann-Pick disease type C2 in Canada is 549 for the estimated total population of 82,42,46,092Investigators at the NINDS have identified two different genes that, when defective, contribute to Niemann-Pick disease type C. NINDS scientists are studying the mechanisms by which lipids accumulating in these storage diseases causes harm to the body. Additional research studies hope to identify biomarkers (signs that may indicate risk of a disease and improve diagnosis) for the lipid storage disorders.