Brain Disorders | Study on Moebius Syndrome and Congenital Facial Weakness Disorders

Brain Disorders research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Background: - Moebius syndrome limits the ability to make facial expressions like smile, frown or blink - and move the eyes laterally. It can also cause speech, swallowing or breathing difficulties and affect parts of the body, such as the limbs, jaw, muscles, or the heart. Some individuals with Moebius can have intellectual impairment or behavior problems. Researchers want to study the clinical features of individuals with Moebius or related disorders and explore the genetic and/or environmental causes of these conditions. Objective: - To learn more about the genetics and clinical characteristics of Moebius syndrome and other Congenital Facial Weakness disorders. Eligibility: - People ages 2 to 80 years with congenital facial weakness, isolated or combined with other congenital anomalies, and their family members. Design: - Participants with Moebius syndrome or other congenital facial weakness disorder will be evaluated at the NIH Clinical Research Center over 3 to 5 days and undergo the following procedures: - Medical and family history and physical examination, including body measurements and vital signs. - Blood or saliva will be collected for genetic tests and to evaluate liver, kidney, heart and hormonal functions. - Eye examination, including having a video taken of their eyes moving. - Hearing evaluation. - Speech and language assessment, including swallowing studies. - Dental exam. - Detailed neurological evaluation, including electromyogram/nerve conduction and blink reflex study. - Rehabilitation medicine evaluation, including muscle and tongue strength testing and assessment of balance. - Neurocognitive and behavioral testing and questionnaires to assess quality of life and copying mechanisms. - Imaging studies of their head, by magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging -MRI/DTI. Participants will lie on a table that slides into a metal cylinder that takes images of internal body structures using magnets. Child participants may be sedated. - Some adults may have additional X-rays of their head or limbs, if there are abnormal findings. - Medical photographs of the face and affected body parts may be taken. - Other specialized tests or consultations, as indicated. - Participants can choose to have a skin biopsy taken. - A follow-up visit will be offered to participants for review of genetic test findings and possibly additional clinical tests, as indicated. Family members of the patients will have a medical and family history and physical examination. Blood or saliva will be obtained for genetic studies.

Who is eligible to participate?

- INCLUSION CRITERIA: 1. Subject is 2-80 years, any gender, race or ethnic group, inclusive. 2. Subject has a diagnosis of congenital facial palsy, isolated or combined with other congenital anomalies, based on MPIs review of prior medical records and interview with patient and/or patient physicians. 3. Subject is a family member of a patient with a diagnosis of congenital facial palsy, isolated or combined with other congenital anomalies. 4. Subject has the ability to travel to the NIH Clinical Center for admissions. 5. Subject or subject s legal guardian is able to provide written informed consent. EXCLUSION CRITERIA: 1. Subject has severe respiratory difficulties (i.e., requiring a tracheostomy or other assistive device to maintain respiration) or other disease manifestation that would interfere with the ability to comply with the requirements of this protocol and/or pose a severe anesthesia risk. 2. Subject has a psychiatric illness or neurological disease that would interfere with the ability to comply with the requirements of this protocol. This includes, but is not limited to, uncontrolled/untreated psychotic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse or dependence, antisocial personality disorder, or panic disorder. 3. Subject shows evidence of clinically significant cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic, renal, hematological, metabolic, or gastrointestinal disease, or has a condition that requires immediate surgical intervention. 4. Subject is pregnant during the study. 5. Subject or subject s legal guardian is unable or unwilling to provide consent or assent. 6. The principal investigator may decline to enroll a patient for other reasons.

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Brain Disorders

Birth Defects

Craniofacial Differences

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

Study Status


Start Date: May 20, 2014

Completed Date: December 31, 2022


Type: Observational


Primary Outcome: Characterize the phenotype of Moebius syndrome and other congenital facial weakness disorders to determine the prevalence of associated malformations and inform subsequent genetic studies.

Secondary Outcome: Obtain imaging studies to explore cranial nerve structure and associated brain/brainstem and white matter tract anomalies and associate with the neurocognitive and behavioral phenotype of the patients.

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: Eirini Manoli, M.D.

Lead Sponsor: National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

Collaborator: National Eye Institute (NEI)

More information:

Möbius PJ. About congenital bilateral abducens and facialis palsy (1888). Strabismus. 2008 Jan-Mar;16(1):39-44. doi: 10.1080/09273970801946737.

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