Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD, study on anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis helps diagnose medical mystery

December 7, 2010

The Washington Post

Doctor's diagnosis drew laughs, but it saved  woman's life

The Washington Post reports on a mysterious case where a previously healthy 35-year-old mother of three had initially become so psychotic she had to be tied to her hospital bed to keep from hurting herself. A University of Rochester resident early on thought she might be suffering from an extremely rare, newly identified illness he had heard about two year earlier, while interviewing for a residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Josep Dalmau, MD, PhD, professor of Neurology and neuro-oncologists at Penn, and his colleagues had published studies describing anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare reaction seen in young women to a common ovarian tumor called a teratoma, which is typically harmless. Fewer than 200 cases of the illness have been reported worldwide. The only way to determine whether it was related to the newly identified illness was to send it to Dalmau, who had developed a test for it. Within days, the results from Penn were in: The sample matched. Read More