Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Cure for Huntington’s Disease?

Friday, 15 October 2010 08:55 AM

Question: Could you please let me know if there are any significant, natural or otherwise, “cures” out there for Huntington’s disease?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Unfortunately we have yet to discover a cure or effective treatment to arrest the progression of Huntington's disease. Huntington's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative genetic disorder that is caused by a genetic mutation of the gene encoding for the Huntington protein.

Huntington's patients have progressive trouble coordinating their movements and have associated muscular contractions known as chorea, often with disorders in higher memory function, noted first in the disease's very early stages.

Its effects are seen especially in middle-age years 30-50, and it often has a span of 10-20 years from time of onset until death. It seems to affect Western populations more, and has a prevalence worldwide of 5-10 cases per 100,000 people. Most are totally incapacitated before their death.

In my experience, this incredibly disabling condition has various expressions. I have seen some that are wheelchair-bound rapidly, while others seem to undergo remissions and exacerbations.

Most patients are cared for by their primary care physicians in concert with a consulting neurologist. Supportive treatment is the mainstay of present therapy, though gene therapy may provide some promise in the future.

The newest therapies may relate to matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), which are enzymes that play a role in the breakdown of proteins that modify the production of toxic fragments that contribute to Huntington's disease). MMPs are also involved in stroke, inflammation, and many other neurological processes, and much scientific attention is presently being focused on these proteases.

MMPs appear to respond to some of the newer cancer drugs under development. So we will await to see if MMP inhibitor drugs can be used to offer treatment to HD patients, but we are likely looking at a five-year window (or longer) on these agents before they will possibly be available.

© HealthDay

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