Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems. It typically becomes noticeable in mid-adult life.
The potential treatment:
New research reported just this week in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a special type of brain cell forged from stem cells could help restore the muscle coordination deficits that cause the uncontrollable spasms characteristic of Huntington’s disease.
"This is really something unexpected," says Su-Chun Zhang, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist and the senior author of the new study, which showed that locomotion could be restored in mice with a Huntington's-like condition.
The goal of the study, according to Zhan, was to see if the cells would safely integrate into the mouse brain.
To their astonishment, the cells not only integrated but also project to the right target and effectively reestablished the broken communication network, restoring motor function.
"This circuitry is essential for motor coordination," Zhang says, "and it is what is broken in Huntington patients”