A synthetic oil drug could offer hope to those with Huntington's Disease, according to new research.
Study author Dr Fanny Mochel at Pitie-Salpetriere University hospital in Paris, France, said the oil could help to improve the metabolic profile of the brain in the early stages of the disease.
"Although the results should be taken with great caution because researchers and participants in the study knew whether or not they were getting the drug, we saw improvement in movement and motor skills in people with Huntington's after one month of therapy," Dr Mochel added.
Huntington's is an inherited condition that causes nerve cells in the brain to degenerate, affecting movements, memory and thinking abilities, and emotions and behaviour.
The child of a parent with Huntington's disease has a 50 per cent chance of developing the disease, with symptoms appearing between the ages of 30 and 50.
Researchers studied nine people in the early stages of Huntington's and 13 people without the disease. Their average age of the participants was 46.
MRI brain scans were used to analyse the energy profile before, during and after the brain was visually stimulated. The test was then repeated one month later.
In those who did not have Huntington's, the brain's metabolism increased during the stimulation, before returning to the normal level. However, no change in metabolism was observed in those with the condition.
During the second part of the study, people with Huntington's were given triheptanoin, a compound made up of special fatty acids that can provide alternative energy to glucose in the brain.
The ten participants, which included five of the participants in the first part of the study, had the flavourless, odourless oil during meals three or four times a day for a month.
When the visual stimulation test was re-run, their brain metabolism was found to be normal.
Dr Mochel said the findings could be used to help those with the family gene for Huntington's disease.
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