Research offers clue to halt Huntington's disease

Mar 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Surprising findings from a study into the brains of transgenic mice carrying the Huntington's disease mutation could pave the way for treatments which delay the onset and progression of this devastating genetic disease.

Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) have found that the brains of mice with Huntington's disease nevertheless retain populations of the precursor and which can give rise to new neurons.

The potential for stimulating the production of new neurons in Huntington's disease patients thus remained high, according to Dr Tara Walker, the postdoctoral fellow who carried out the work in the laboratory of Professor Perry Bartlett.

“Combined with previous findings which show that environmental enrichment and antidepressant treatment delayed both the onset and progression of Huntington's disease in mice, these findings are encouraging,” she says.

Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that results in progressive motor, cognitive and psychiatric deficits which eventually lead to death.

Currently, there is no known cure.

However, the research, published this week in PLoS ONE, holds out hope that retained cell populations in the brains of Huntington's disease patients could one day be manipulated to replace degenerating neurons.

“Now we know that the capacity to generate neurons is retained in animals in even advanced stages of , further research will need to explore what stops this process from occurring,” Dr Walker says.

“This may not only allow the restoration of neurogenesis, but may also allow this process to be harnessed to repair other areas of neuronal cell loss.”

Explore further: Paralyzed man recovers some function following transplantation of OECs and nerve bridge

Related Stories

New hope for Huntington's sufferers

Aug 22, 2007

A major breakthrough in the understanding and potential treatment of Huntington's disease has been made by scientists at the University of Leeds.

Metabolic disorder underlies Huntington's disease

Oct 19, 2006

A metabolic disorder underlies the brain effects found in those with Huntington's disease, researchers report in an advance article publishing online October 19, 2006. The article will appear in the November 2006 issue of ...

Recommended for you

Team untangles the biological effects of blue light

8 hours ago

Blue light can both set the mood and set in motion important biological responses. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences have teased apart the ...

Mouse model provides new insight in to preeclampsia

9 hours ago

Worldwide, preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal deaths and preterm births. This serious pregnancy complication results in extremely high blood pressure and organ damage. The onset of preeclampsia is associated with ...

Scientists unravel the mystery of a rare sweating disorder

9 hours ago

An international research team discovered that mutation of a single gene blocks sweat production, a dangerous condition due to an increased risk of hyperthermia, also known as heatstroke. The gene, ITPR2, controls a basic ...

User comments : 0