The Huntington's Scene In  New Zealand

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Graham Taylor

Articles taken from the June 2004 Huntington's News. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Huntington's Disease Associations of New Zealand

Huntington’s Advance

 Research breakthrough in possible treatment for Huntington’s

 Medical researchers may have discovered a way to control the debilitating condition, Huntington’s Disease, which currently has no cure.

 The central nervous system disorder can lead to loss of muscle control, dementia and depression. In the UK around 50,000 people either suffer from the disease or are at risk of developing it. In the USA the figure is 230,000.

 Huntington’s Disease is genetically inherited and normally occurs in middle age, although it can strike at any time. It is caused by a mutation in the huntingtin protein which makes it become toxic.

 But a potential breakthrough has come from a team at Cambridge University led by Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow David Rubinsztein, whose work has just been published by Nature Genetics online.

 Tests in cell, fly and mouse models of Huntington’s disease carried out by Dr Rubinsztein’s laboratory at the Department of Medical Genetics have shown that a known drug called rapamycin can reduce the levels of the toxic protein causing Huntington’s. The treatment delayed the onset and progression of disease.

 “This is an exciting development which could be tremendously important for people suffering from Huntington’s Disease,” said Dr Rubinsztein. “Rapamycin is designed for long-term use, which is obviously crucial for someone who has this disorder.”

 This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s leading biomedical research charities.

 The Wellcome Trust is an independent research-funding charity established in 1936 under the will of tropical medicine pioneer Sir Henry Wellcome. The Trust’s mission is to promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health. It spends more than 400m p.a. uk

 The University of Cambridge’s reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known worldwide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by the staff of the University and the Colleges.

 As Cambridge approaches its eight hundredth anniversary in 2009, it is looking to the future. It continues to change in response to the challenges it faces. The modern University is an international centre of teaching and research in a vast range of subjects: about half of the students study science or technology. Members of the University have won over sixty Nobel Prizes.

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Source: Wellcome Trust

Released: Mon 17-May-2004