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Neuroscience

One small step for a disease, one large milestone for the brain

Huntington’s disease is devastating neurodegenerative disease that affects one in 10,000 people. It is a hereditary condition that has no known cure. If one parent has it, the children will each have a 50-50 percent chance of developing the disease. Symptoms often appear between the ages 30-50. Patients usually require full time care at the end of their lives, living the last days in a vegetative state.

The challenge for any brain disorder is the lack of quick and easy tests or cheap and definitive imaging technology to help with diagnosis. At the early stages, symptoms are not particularly specific, including mood swings, problem with memory and unsteady walk. Many will simply associate these behaviours as a natural part of aging. Without easy to access, conclusive diagnostic tools people generally only seek medical attention when the symptoms are undeniable or severe, which sometimes is a catch-22 for a patience with cognitive defects.

A recent breakthrough by a team in the University College of London (UCL) means a cure maybe in sight for this dreadful disease. For more information on the cure, please refer to the article on BBC:

 

BBC: Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease

While the research team are cautious not to brand it as the complete remedy, it is a significant milestone, possibly the biggest breakthrough in neuroscience for 50 years. Aside from the research scientists, credits must be given to the patients who participated in the experiment.

There is hope, not simply for the patients and family of Huntington’s disease, but also for other neurodegenerative conditions. With a cure in sight, more funding may be diverted into this research, which could branch off to developing, cures for similar brain disorders. There are those who describe Huntington’s as a tragic combination of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But here’s hoping that a cure for one will spin off to become a cure for many.

 

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