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A MERSEYSIDE woman who was the first to try out a potential cure for the human form of BSE has died.

Rachel Forber was unable to walk, feed herself or recognise her parents as variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease attacked her brain and nervous system.

Despite making progress after being prescribed the new drugs, Rachel died at her mother Jayne's home just three days after her 21st birthday.

Her mother was too upset to talk but step-father Jason Taylor said: "Rachel died on Saturday. We don't want to say any more."

Rachel began showing signs of depression during training for the Royal Signals last Christmas and was discharged from the army.

Within two months, she was a bed-ridden invalid who required constant care. As the disease took its toll she could not recognise her family, bear the slightest noise or daylight, or feed and dress herself.

In June, after neurological tests doctors diagnosed variant CJD.

There have been 106 victims of the condition since 1996 and only six are still alive.

Rachel's father, Stephen, a lorry driver from Newton-leWillows, refused to give up hope and scoured the internet in search of help.

He eventually contacted Nobel Prize winner Professor Stanley Prusiner who is recognised as the world's leading expert on BSE-type diseases.

Prof Prusiner discovered the link between BSE in cattle and variant CJD in humans.

Rachel was taken to San Francisco for treatment and placed on a course of quinacrine.

Prof Prusiner's team insisted it was too early to talk about a cure but, within days, she was able to get out of bed and walk unaided.

After 19 days in America, Ms Forber was allowed to fly home and took a family holiday in Spain where she swam in the sea.

Her apparent recovery was closely monitored by scientists around the world.

When she returned to Merseyside, Ms Forber continued taking quinacrine but was taken off the drug after complications affected her liver. It is believed that her health took a sudden decline last week after a lung infection exacerbated problems.


CJD TRAGEDY: Rachel Forber who died after hopes of a cure
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2001
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