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A Mother's Early Death Drives Her Daughter To Find A Treatment

Kamni Vallabh helps her daughter Sonia get ready for her wedding, a few months before Kamni started showing symptoms of the prion disease that would kill her.
Courtesy of Sonia Vallabh
Kamni Vallabh helps her daughter Sonia get ready for her wedding, a few months before Kamni started showing symptoms of the prion disease that would kill her.

Sonia Vallabh saw her mother die at age 52 from a rare disease that causes irreversible brain damage. Then Sonia learned she has inherited the genetic mutation that killed her mother. She and her husband quit their jobs and trained to become scientists. They're now racing against time to come up with a treatment that could save Sonia's life.

Read Sonia's story on NPR's health blog, Shots, and listen to her and Eric on Monday's All Things Considered.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rae Ellen Bichell is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She first came to NPR in 2013 as a Kroc fellow and has since reported Web and radio stories on biomedical research, global health, and basic science. She won a 2016 Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award from the Foundation for Biomedical Research. After graduating from Yale University, she spent two years in Helsinki, Finland, as a freelance reporter and Fulbright grantee.