Scientists at UC Irvine have created a new method to quickly and accurately track the progression of Huntington’s disease. Irvine researchers studied Huntington’s proteins present in spinal fluid to determine that they held a “seeding” property, which is essential to the disease’s progression.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a terrible condition that degenerates nerve cells in the brain, and has a broad impact on functional abilities, including uncontrollable movements, behavioral disturbances and reduced cognition. Most people with Huntington's disease develop symptoms between the ages of 30 and 40, with symptoms increasing quickly thereafter. (image credit: Dr. Frank Gaillard, commons.wikimedia.org)
In order to help understand how the disease progresses, UC Irvine researchers, led by Dr. Steven Potkin, used a new test to compare the “seeding activity” present in human spinal fluid. The test differentiates between Huntington’s subjects, who have high activity; gene carriers, with little activity; and non-HD patients, with no activity.
“Determining if a treatment modifies the course of a neurodegenerative disease like Huntington’s or Alzheimer’s may take years of clinical observation,” said Potkin. “This assay that reflects a pathological process can play a key role in more rapidly developing an effective treatment. Blocking the cell-to-cell seeding process itself may turn out to be an effective treatment strategy.”
According to the researchers, testing for “seeding activity” is a quicker measure of HD progression than monitoring symptoms, and may also be useful in monitoring other neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s and ALS. They also say that the test could be used to provide optimal dosages for drugs at specific stages of the disease progression.
In addition to this breakthrough, study contributor Leslie Thompson of UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and UCI MIND recently received a $5 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The funding was given to help continue her CIRM-funded effort to develop stem cell treatments for Huntington’s disease.
UC Irvine is a major medical research institution specializing in neurodegenerative diseases, including HD, and a host of other important science disciplines, including:
- Biochemistry- $8M from the National Institutes of Health in 2014
- Medicine- $17M from the NIH in 2014
- Pediatrics- $7M from the NIH in 2014
- Neurology- $7M from the NIH in 2014
- Cell Biology- $11M from the NIH in 2014
With over $105 million granted from the National Institutes of Health in 2014, UC Irvine is a major contender in the life science research marketplace.
That’s why Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. hosts its annual BioResearch Product Faire™ at UC Irvine - for researchers and lab vendors to meet and discuss new trends and technologies at a leading science institution.
If you want to join this life science market, either to purchase new lab equipment or to promote your own, consider attending the 15th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ at UC Irvine on November 3, 2015.
Last year, this event hosted scientists from 26 different research buildings and 31 on-campus departments at UC Irvine in search of new lab equipment and supplies.
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