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

s to HD investigators, and ethical concerns with modeling in these species," says Dr Howland. "CHDI has invested in efforts to expand modeling in large animals to include sheep and minipigs to work around some of these concerns about NHP models."

Large domesticated farm animals offer some distinct advantages as models of HD. Sheep, for example, are domesticated, docile, live outdoors, are easy to care for, and relatively economical to maintain. A sheep's brain is about the same size as a large primate's, is gyrencephalic, and the basal ganglia that degenerate in HD are anatomically similar to those in humans. Sheep live long enough that the time available for studying progressive neurological diseases such as HD is much greater than is possible in rodents. HD transgenic sheep express HTT protein in the brain and abnormal HD-associated neurochemical changes. These HD sheep have been subject to advanced genomic techniques and, because they carry a human transgene that is expressed at both an mRNA and protein level, they are seen as suitable for testing gene therapy-based reagents directed against human HTT. A further advantage, says Professor Morton, is that "although sheep have a reputation for being stupid, this is probably undeserved they have very good memories and are capable of learning and remembering new tasks."

In order to advance the use of the HD sheep model, I.M.J. van der Bom, PhD, from the Department of Radiology at the University of Massachusetts, and colleagues developed a multi-modal technique using skull markings seen with CT imaging and brain anatomy from MR imaging to allow more precise placement of intracerebral cannulae into sheep brain. The technique offers the ability to directly image micro-cannula placement to ensure accurate targeting of the therapeutic injection in the brain. With this technique, the authors hope to study the extent of optimal safety, spread and neuronal uptake of adeno-associated virus (AAV) based ther
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Contact: Daphne Watrin
d.watrin@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert

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