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Huntington's test developed

Thursday September 13th, 2018

A test, developed by British scientists, may detect very early signs of Huntington's disease, it was announced last night.

The simple blood test was created by Dr Ed Wild and his team at University College London, UK. They say it can detect the earliest changes caused by the disease in advance of brain scans.

Details of the test are published in Science Translational Medicine.

The test identifies and tracks progression of the disease in people with a specific Huntington's-related gene. The team has developed a toolkit for measuring two early biomarkers of Huntington's disease found in blood and brain fluid.

This information will be fed into clinical trials searching for treatment for Huntington's.

Dr Wild says: "Many people who develop Huntington’s report subtle signs such as with mood or coordination, in what's called the prodromal stage before any changes can be detected by brain scans.

"We've found that blood testing could help identify groups of people with very early neurodegeneration to help us run clinical trials of drugs to prevent symptoms."

He added that the team were surprised to find the blood tests could pick up signs even before any evidence of neurodegeneration could be seen in brain scans. They point out that the blood test is not yet helpful for individual patients, as more research is needed to clarify its clinical potential.

"We hope it can help to develop the first drugs to slow Huntington's, and if they become available, then hopefully this test could help guide decisions on when to begin treatment," said first author Dr Lauren Byrne.

Byrne, L. M. et al. Evaluation of mutant huntingtin and neurofilament proteins as potential markers in Huntington’s disease. Science Translational Medicine 12 September 2018; doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat7108

http://stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aat7108

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Genetics | UK News

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