A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD girl from the North-East is helping to prove that taking a common vitamin can help to treat a potentially fatal neuromuscular disease.

Demi Anderson, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, was diagnosed with Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome, (BVVL) at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London in 2011.

Neuromuscular disorders such as BVVL cause the breakdown of muscle and nerve tissue.

Symptoms range from being almost undetectable to the progressive loss of muscle function, sensory impairment, paralysis and death.

After taking the vitamin riboflavin for more than two years, as part of a clinical trial at Great Ormond Street, Demi can now sit and stand independently for the first time in three years and has shown other improvements.

The study has shown encouraging results in treating BVVL with 14 out of 16 patients given high dose riboflavin seeing some improvement or stabilisation.

Demi's mother, Tracy, said: "The mobility in her hands is so much better. She has put on weight, grown in height and shoe size and her hair has grown, all of which had remained the same between the age of six and ten.

"It's amazing to think that such a simple intervention could have such a profound effect.

"Having struggled for so many years to get a diagnosis for Demi, it was very hard to stay positive and it was difficult to imagine any good news.

"Life is still very challenging for Demi, but this clinical study has helped her significantly."

"Doctors at GOSH have been absolutely amazing in helping and supporting us, Demi is finally on medication which is proving to have a positive effect on her."

Patients with BVVL are deficient in riboflavin or vitamin B2, an essential vitamin necessary for normal metabolic function. Findings from the study conclude that high-dose oral riboflavin can be effective in treating this condition and is most beneficial when introduced soon after the start of symptoms, which include vision and hearing loss and upper limb weakness.

The study has been published in the journal Brain.