Huntington’s disease research news. In plain language. Written by scientists. For the global HD community.
Build-up of unwanted chemicals in cells is one way the HD mutation causes damage to neurons. A cellular recycling process called autophagy is crucial to getting rid of these harmful chemicals. Now researchers have found a way of identifying safe drugs that can increase the rate of garbage disposal in HD.
It has long been known that HD causes brain shrinkage that can be detected using MRI scanning. But new findings from the PREDICT-HD study suggest that the brains of men with the HD might never reach the same size as the brains of people without the mutation during development. That suggests that the HD mutation might be exerting its effects even earlier than we thought.
A group of researchers working on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in yeast cells have found an unexpected genetic link between ALS and SCA-2, a disease in the same genetic family as HD. New links between these diseases might reveal new ways of approaching the search for treatments for diseases like HD.
In an article in the medical journal The Lancet, Sir Michael Rawlins claims that traditional estimates of how common Huntington’s disease is, might be dramatic underestimates. Why might this be, and what does it mean for the HD community and the search for effective treatments?
When it comes to studying a disease that progresses slowly, like HD, there is strength in numbers. Studying many patients repeatedly over several years can give us powerful insights that can’t be gained through other research techniques. That’s why two of the largest observational studies, COHORT and REGISTRY are joining forces to form ENROLL-HD, the world’s largest ever study of HD patients.
2010 was a big year for the small Danish pharmacology company NeuroSearch and its experimental drug, Huntexil, which aims to improve the movements and coordination of people with HD symptoms. What have NeuroSearch's two clinical trials - MermaiHD in Europe and HART in the USA - told us about the possible benefits of Huntexil - and what is likely to happen next?
The DOMINO study group has published the report of its ‘futility study’ of minocycline treatment in HD. Minocycline and a placebo pill were tested over 18 months. A futility study is designed to make it relatively easy for a drug to be recommended for larger studies, but minocycline treatment wasn’t promising enough and the study authors found that further trials with minocycline were “not warranted”.
TRACK-HD, an observational trial of people carrying the HD mutation has released data describing changes over the first year of the study. These data show that a number of changes can be robustly observed in a single year of observing HD patients, which could be used to help plan drug trials. Brain imaging, in particular, was able to clearly see changes caused by the HD mutation.