Tags: huntington | disease | origin | brain | cause | prevention | treat

Scientists Uncover New Clues to Huntington's

By    |   Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:24 PM

Swedish scientists have uncovered new clues to the origins of Huntington's disease — findings that could open the door to novel ways of treating, preventing, or slowing the progression of the debilitating brain disorder.
 
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Lund University researchers said they were able to observe, through advanced microscopes, the misfiring of electrical signals in the brains of mice with Huntington's-like symptoms. The misfiring of those "synapses" — primary communication points that connect billions of cells throughout the brain — may hold the key to the origins of Huntington's disease, the scientists said
 
"With the naked eye, we have now been able to follow the step-by-step events when these synapses start to break down," said professor Jia-Yi Li, the research team’s leader. "If we are to halt or reverse this process in the future, it is necessary to understand exactly what happens in the initial phase of the disease. Now we know more."
 
Li said the degradation of synaptic activity occurs long before nerve cell death in Huntington's patients that leads to the characteristic involuntary shaking and mental disabilities that many patients experience. The findings are an important step toward understanding the serious non-motor symptoms that affect Huntington's patients long before the movement disorders start to show, Li added.
 
Such early symptoms as depression and sleep disorders might also be tied to these changes in brain function, the researchers said.
 
"Many patients testify that these symptoms affect quality of life significantly more than the involuntary jerky movements," said Reena Murmu, who helped lead the experiments.

"Therefore, it is extremely important that we achieve progress in this field of research. Our goal now is to find new therapies that can increase the lifespan of these synapses and maintain their vital function."

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Swedish scientists have uncovered new clues to the origins of Huntington's disease - findings that could open the door to novel ways of treating, preventing, or slowing the progression of the debilitating brain disorder.
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2013-24-14
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:24 PM
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