Hopes for a potential cure for Huntingdon's disease sufferers have been renewed after research has identified the possible cause of the dementia-inducing condition.
Doctors in the US believe that the severe neuro-degeneration associated with the disease may be due to mutated proteins blocking the transportation of the necessary nutrients between brain cells.
Scientists believe that the mutant huntingdin protein blocks the huntingdin-associated protein-1 (HAP1) which provides the nutrients for developing neurons.
Dr Xiao-Jiang Li, lead author of the study, and a professor of human genetics at Emory University, believes that this discovery could lead to a cure being developed for the disease.
"This protein is very important. When an animal does not have HAP1 it dies after birth. Certainly, it's essential for differentiation and survival of some neurons in the brain," he said.
He went on to explain that a cure may come about because of a greater understanding of the mechanisms of Huntingdon's disease, which inhibits movement, speech, memory and reasoning.