Galactose is a sugar found in foods, but the human body also naturally produces galactose on its own. People with Galactosemia have mutations or deletions in their DNA that are passed down from family members. The DNA alterations can lead to different subtypes of Galactosemia, such as GALT Deficiency (known as Classic Galactosemia) or GALK Deficiency. Aldose Reductase (AR), an enzyme known to play a role in many diseases including Galactosemia, converts galactose into galactitol, a toxic metabolite that builds up in tissues and organs and can cause long-term disease complications.
Galactose is found in dairy products and certain other foods, but galactose is also naturally produced by the body (endogenously). This means that diet alone cannot prevent the long-term consequences of Galactosemia. A treatment for those living with Galactosemia is needed.
There are about 3,000 individuals with Galactosemia (GALT) in the U.S. and ~3,500 individuals in the EU (GALT + GALK)
Most patients with Galactosemia are under the age of 40, as newborn screening was not widely adopted until the 1980’s
Galactosemia is included as part of routine newborn screening in all 50 U.S. states, and in many European countries
Currently, the only method of managing Galactosemia is to keep patients on a strict diet that removes any lactose (another type of sugar) or galactose-containing foods and drinks. In babies, this usually means switching from breast milk or milk-based formula to a low galactose formula, such as soy or elemental formula.
However, galactose is also produced by the body. This means that diet alone does not prevent the long-term consequences of Galactosemia. A treatment for those living with Galactosemia is desperately needed.