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Large animal models of Huntington's disease offer new and promising research options
Date:4/22/2013

changes. There are also important anatomic differences between the brains of humans and rodents that become especially relevant when studying HD, including the lack of a gyrencephalic (convoluted) cortex and differences in the structure and cellular characteristics of the basal ganglia compared to humans. Not only does a rodent's small brain often preclude the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques, it is also not clear how intracerebral application of trophic factors, transplant therapies, and gene therapies in small animals might translate to the much larger human brain.

"Importantly, the brains of large animals can be studied using sensitive measures that should be highly translatable to the human condition, including MRI and PET imaging, EEG, and electrophysiology, as well as behavioral tests looking at motor and cognitive function," says Professor Jenny Morton, PhD, of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. "Moving to larger-brained animal models after promising results are obtained in rodents is a logical, and possibly necessary, step to optimize delivery and biodistribution, validating on-target mechanism of action, and assessing safety profiles," says Professor Morton

"Strategies directed against the huntingtin gene in the brain are an important part of CHDI's therapeutic portfolio", says David Howland, PhD, Director of Model Systems at CHDI. "Translating preclinical results for gene-based therapies from rodent models to larger-brained models of HD is an important step along the path toward clinical testing."

Significant advances have been made in the creation and characterization of HD models in nonhuman primates (NHP). "The relevance to human biology of NHP models in Huntington's disease hold great potential value for preclinical research and development, but we need to fully consider the substantial issues of cost, long-term housing of affected animals, access of the model
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Contact: Daphne Watrin
d.watrin@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert

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