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Caltech researchers show efficacy of gene therapy in mouse models of Huntington's disease
Date:10/30/2009

bodycalled Happ1was an unqualified success, restoring motor and cognitive function to the mice, and reducing neuron loss as well as toxic protein accumulation. And in one model, it increased both body weight and life span.

Happ1 targets an amino-acid sequence unique to the Htt protein that is rich in the amino acid proline. Because of this, the action of Happ1 is expected to be extremely specific. "Our studies show that the use of intrabodies can block the parts of mutant huntingtin that cause its toxicity without affecting the wildtype, or normal, huntingtinor any other proteins," says Patterson. In other words, he says, this has the potential to be the kind of "silver-bullet therapy" that many medical researchers look for.

This sort of research is of particular importance in the treatment of Huntington's disease, says Patterson. Despite the fact that this disorder has a single-gene origin, current treatments tend to address the symptoms of the disease, not its cause. That means it is currently impossible to prevent the disease from doing significant damage in the first place.

What's the next step in pursuit of this goal? "We need to improve the efficacy of the intrabody," Patterson says, "and we need to build a viral vector that can be controlledinduced and turned offin case of unexpected side effects. This is a general goal shared by all types of experimental gene therapies."


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Contact: Lori Oliwenstein
lorio@caltech.edu
626-395-3631
California Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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