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Melbourne find gives new hope to Huntington's patients
Comments by J. C. Spencer
Huntington’s disease is affecting more people earlier in life. Weakened immune systems let down the defenses to control this horrible neurodegenerative challenge. The immune systems of HD patients is weaker as the vital sugars are missing from the body. New findings in Australia are reported in tomorrow’s news. The article below was posted tomorrow (international time zone) concerning what they call “the white matter connecting parts of the brain starts breaking down in Huntington’s disease patients well before the crippling symptoms strike.”

Spotting symptoms earlier: researcher India Bohanna with a model of a brain. Picture: Belinda O'Neill We now know what the DNA markers are in Huntington’s patients and in Alzheimer’s patients but these markers do not give us the timing when HD or Alzheimer's will actually strike. That depends on the body’s ability to resist the disease.

Read the science paper Trehalose and beta-amyloid 40 and 42 as in Alzheimer's posted in our Sugar Science Forum and in our NEWS section at www.endowmentmed.org/ The study of Huntington’s using trehalose in mice is also available online in the same Forum and NEWS section and it is entitled: Trehalose alleviates polyglutamine-mediated pathology-mouse model of Huntington. Now for the Australian report

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Melbourne find gives new hope to Huntington's patients


PIONEERING Melbourne scientists are giving hope to people with Huntington's disease. They say they have cut the age by which the disease is usually detected by 10 years.

It is usually diagnosed when people are about 40. They die within 15 to 20 years.

Using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging, researchers from the Howard Florey Institute and Monash University have revealed that white matter connecting parts of the brain starts breaking down in Huntington's disease patients well before the crippling symptoms strike.

The breakthrough attracted international interest at an international brain mapping conference in Melbourne yesterday.

It is considered particularly exciting because the imaging technique could also lead to breakthroughs in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Florey researcher India Bohanna said the breakthrough would allow the disease to be tackled well before patients suffered the debilitating motor, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.

"If we can identify what those early symptoms are, there is a chance of stopping the disease progressing or even stopping symptoms from occurring at all," Ms Bohanna said.

Seven in every 100,000 Australians suffer Huntington's disease.

Assoc Prof Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, from Monash University, said studying earlier signs of the disease would allow scientists to test medications up to a decade before symptoms appear.

"If we can identify early brain changes as early as possible, we can then look at how effective drugs are in forestalling the disease and increasing the quality of life," she said.

Having inherited the Huntington's disease gene from his father, Tony Mims, 30, knows the difficult road ahead, but has new hope of a cure.

"One of the things the research can provide us is a sense of control," he said.

"The potential of what the outcomes could be are really exciting for people like myself, who are pre-symptomatic, in terms of knowing at what time those symptoms are going to start to occur.

"This research gives you hope that there are world-class facilities making efforts to find this treatment and this cure."

Grant McArthur
June 18, 2008 12:01am
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23880144-2862,00.html
Last Updated ( Aug 04, 2008 at 03:00 PM )