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7 Sep 16

International Information

From the International Huntingtons Association
Simple Sugar (Trehalose) Curbs Huntington Disease in Mice
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 13:32:48 +0100
Source: Reuters Health, 19 jan. 2004

Simple sugar curbs Huntington disease, in mice
Last Updated: 2004-01-19 15:47:42 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Huntington disease is an inherited condition caused by a genetic mutation that invariably leads to dementia and death, usually in adulthood. For people in families with the disease, a genetictest can tell if they have inherited the mutation -- but many prefer not to be tested, because there is no cure.

Now comes a ray of hope.

In mice that develop a form of Huntington disease, a non-toxic sugar compound called trehalose, given by mouth, significantly extends life, according to Japanese researchers.

These results "make trehalose promising as a therapeutic drug or lead compound" for the treatment of Huntington disease, Dr. Nobuyuki Nukina and colleagues from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama write in this week's online edition of Nature Medicine.

There is considerable evidence that clumping in the brain of an abnormal, insoluble protein called "huntingtin" causes Huntington disease. Nukina's team found through lab experiments that a number of sugars --disaccharides -- inhibit this aggregation.

"Trehalose has the strongest effect," he told Reuters Health.

Mice with Huntington disease given trehalose in drinking water had substantially fewer huntingtin protein aggregates in the brain, less motor dysfunction, and lived significantly longer than untreated animals. However, although trehalose appears to prevent the formation of new aggregates, it does not seem to reverse existing formations.

"The protection of aggregation formation is important to block the disease cascade," Nukina explained.Trehalose, which is turned into glucose in the body, did not alter blood levels of glucose in the animals. This is notable, the researchers say, because people with Huntington disease are prone to develop diabetes.

"It is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness, dose and safety of trehalose in human trials," Nukina concluded.

The researcher pointed out that trehalose may also have potential against other neurological disorders caused by similar aggregation of proteins such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, prion disease (such as the human version of mad cow disease), and Lou Gehrig disease.

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