Breakthrough on Huntington's disease

May 23, 2013, Lund University

Researchers at Lund University have succeeded in preventing very early symptoms of Huntington's disease, depression and anxiety, by deactivating the mutated huntingtin protein in the brains of mice.

"We are the first to show that it is possible to prevent the of Huntington's disease by deactivating the diseased protein in nerve in the hypothalamus in the brain. This is hugely exciting and bears out our previous hypotheses", explains Åsa Petersén, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Lund University.

Huntington's is a debilitating disease for which there is still neither cure nor sufficient treatment. The dance-like movements that characterise the disease have long been the focus for researchers, but the emotional problems affect the patient earlier than the motor symptoms. These are now believed to stem from a different part of the brain – the small emotional centre called the hypothalamus.

"Now that we have been able to show in animal experiments that depression and anxiety occur very early in Huntington's disease, we want to identify more specifically which in the hypothalamus are critical in the development of these symptoms. In the long run, this gives us better opportunities to develop more accurate treatments that can attack the mutated huntingtin where it does the most damage", says Åsa Petersén.

As the role of the in Huntington's disease is gradually mapped, knowledge might be gained from drug research for other psychiatric diseases. It is likely that similar mechanisms control different types of depression, according to Åsa Petersén.

Explore further: New discovery proves cause of weight problems in Huntington's disease

More information: Hypothalamic expression of mutant huntingtin contributes to the development of depressive-like behavior in the BAC transgenic mouse model of Huntington's disease, Hum. Mol. Genet. (2013) doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt203 . First published online: May 22, 2013

Related Stories

New discovery proves cause of weight problems in Huntington's disease

April 6, 2011
The study, which has been published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, shows significant changes in the brain's hormone control centre, the hypothalamus. In a series of experiments on mice, which had the mutated Huntington's ...

Immune cell migration is impeded in Huntington's disease

November 19, 2012
Huntington disease (HD) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease caused by a mutation in the huntingtin gene (htt). Though most of the symptoms of HD are neurological, the mutant HTT protein is expressed in non-neural cells ...

New drugs target delay of Huntington's symptoms

May 31, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- McMaster researchers have discovered a new drug target that may be effective at preventing the onset of Huntington's disease, working much the same way heart medications slow the progression of heart disease ...

Scientists tackle Huntington's disease by targeting mutant gene

November 6, 2012
Huntington's disease is an inherited, neurodegenerative disorder that usually appears in mid-adult life and leads to uncoordinated body movements and cognitive decline. The disease is due to multiple repetitions of a deoxyribonucleic ...

Research reveals Huntington's hope

February 27, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers in Scotland and Germany have discovered a molecular mechanism that shows promise for developing a cure for Huntington's Disease (HD).

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.