Huntington’s spreads like ‘fire in the brain.’ Scientists say they’ve found the spark

Scientists have discovered how degenerative diseases like Huntington’s begin in the brain, potentially paving the way for new treatments.

Key discovery: The study found that a single molecule of protein called PolyQ is responsible for the harmful clumping of proteins in Huntington’s disease.
* This clumping also occurs in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Stopping the chain reaction: Researchers were able to prevent the clumping by flooding the cell with proteins that effectively “smothered” the initial trigger molecule.
* The next step is to develop a drug that can achieve the same effect in people, according to researcher Randal Halfmann.

Significance for other diseases: The study’s findings could help develop treatments that prevent the cascade of events leading to brain damage in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
* Recent Alzheimer’s drugs, such as lecanemab, have shown potential in blocking the more toxic, smaller clumps of protein closer to the triggering event.

View original article on NPR

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