Posted on July 24, 2017

Affected nerve cells, concept for neurological diseases and tumours. Photo: iStock

Affected nerve cells, concept for neurological diseases and tumours. Photo: iStock

Newly-published research from NUI Galway shows encouraging early signs for a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive and movement defects. Sometimes called Huntington’s chorea, it is debilitating, untreatable and relentlessly fatal. Huntington’s disease is particularly cruel because children are sometimes affected more severely than their parents.

Professor Robert Lahue and his team at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway, collaborated with scientists at the University of Barcelona. The researchers targeted an enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), which is thought to alter important biochemical mechanisms in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients and thereby accelerate disease progression.

The new study published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that blocking HDAC3 with an experimental compound in a pre-clinical model of Huntington’s disease slows cognitive decline and delays the onset of molecular signs of neurodegeneration.

NUI Galway’s Professor Lahue said: “While these results are preliminary, the data shows that the onset of Huntington’s disease is delayed when HDAC3 is blocked in this pre-clinical setting. This is an encouraging first step because currently there are no effective treatments that target the root cause of the disease.”

Professor Lahue also noted the key role of the Spanish collaborators and co-authors, Dr Silvia Ginés and Nuria Suelves from the University of Barcelona: “Silvia and Nuria are Huntington’s disease experts, and the collaborative nature of this joint project allowed the research to progress into new areas.”

Professor Lahue and Dr Ginés have applied for additional funding to develop the treatment further and to assess additional safety aspects.

Science Foundation Ireland and the European Huntington’s Disease Network supported the research in Ireland.

To read the full study in Scientific Reports visit:

NUI Galway Huntington’s disease video for social media:

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