Breakthrough on Huntington's disease

May 23, 2013

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

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

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.