Tay-Sachs Disease is a progressive and fatal genetic condition that involves a complete deficiency of the hexosaminidase-A (HEXA) enzyme. This enzyme is needed in healthy individuals for the process of hydrolysis of GM2 ganglioside to occur. For individuals with Tay-Sachs disease that lack this enzyme, the fatty substance of GM2 ganglioside accumulates in the brain and leads to the symptoms of the disease.
Tay-Sachs disease results from defects in a gene on chromosome 15 that codes for production of the enzyme Hex-A. We all have two copies of this gene. If either or both Hex-A genes are active, the body produces enough of the enzyme to prevent the abnormal build-up of the GM2 ganglioside lipid. Carriers of Tay-Sachs - people who have one copy of the inactive gene along with one copy of the active gene - are healthy. They do not have Tay-Sachs disease but they may pass on the faulty gene to their children.
There's currently no cure for Tay-Sachs disease, so the aim of treatment is to make living with the condition as comfortable as possible. Treatment usually focuses on the Preventing problems with the lungs and airways, relieving any feeding or swallowing problems (dysphagia) and using medication to help control or relieve symptoms, such as fits and muscle stiffness.