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'Problems related to Huntington's start early'

'Problems related to Huntington's start early'
10th January 2008

The initial stages of Huntington's disease take place earlier in life than initially thought, according to new research.

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston have claimed that the damaging effects of the mutated huntingtins (htt) protein are already present in the very early stages of the disease.

In Huntington's patients, the faulty htt protein gene leads to damaged nerve cells in an area of the brain, which ultimately leads to physical, mental and emotional changes.

It was previously thought that the protein began its negative effects after it was cut and imported into the cell's nucleus.

However, Dr Juan Botas, associate professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM suggested that the full-length protein is already causing neurotransmission problems at the level of synapse.

"We investigated the nature of those neurotransmitter defects, and at the same time, identified the genes that could ameliorate those defects," he continued.

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