Canavan Disease: A rare neurodegenerative condition of infancy or childhood characterized by white matter vacuolization and demeylination that gives rise to a spongy appearance. Aspartoacylase deficiency leads to an accumulation of N-acetylaspartate in astrocytes. Inheritance may be autosomal recessive or the illness may occur sporadically. This illness occurs more frequently in individuals of Ashkenazic Jewish descent. The neonatal form features the onset of hypotonia and lethargy at birth, rapidly progressing to coma and death. The infantile form features developmental delay, DYSKINESIAS, hypotonia, spasticity, blindness, and megalencephaly. The juvenile form is characterized by ATAXIA; OPTIC ATROPHY; and DEMENTIA. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p944; Am J Med Genet 1988 Feb;29(2):463-71)beta-Hexosaminidase alpha Chain: The alpha subunit of hexosaminidase A. Mutations in the gene that encodes this protein can result in loss of hexosaminidase A activity and are linked to TAY-SACHS DISEASE.AmidohydrolasesJews: An ethnic group with historical ties to the land of ISRAEL and the religion of JUDAISM.Aspartic Acid: One of the non-essential amino acids commonly occurring in the L-form. It is found in animals and plants, especially in sugar cane and sugar beets. It may be a neurotransmitter.