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Huntington’s Drugs

March 6, 2014

Scientists are screening drugs that could help delay the onset of Huntington’s disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Hope for Huntington’s disease. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

480px-Huntington Frank Gaillard Wikipedia cc 3.0

Brain scan of a person with Huntington’s Disease. (Frank Gaillard/Wikipedia)

People with Huntington’s disease typically begin to develop cognitive and motor deficits in their late thirties and early forties. There’s currently no cure for the rare genetic disorder. But a collaboration of scientists is now screening drugs that could potentially delay the onset of Huntington’s and improve lives. Neuroscientist Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili of Harvard Medical School says there’s growing evidence that the Huntington’s mutation inhibits a process called histone acetylation, preventing genes from doing their job.

GHAZALEH SADRI-VAKILI (Harvard Medical School):

And what we’ve done is to try and identify a number of compounds called histone deacetylase inhibitors, that reverse this abnormality.

HIRSHON:

She says the drugs have been effective in both cellular and animal models of Huntington’s disease. Once the most promising drug candidates are identified, the collaborators hope to begin testing them in people with early stage Huntington’s disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.