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Scientists Claim Encouraging Progress On Hereditary Diseases

ional, Inc., Genzyme Corporation, Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Prestwick Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Sirna Therapeutics, Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Huntington's disease is a fatal neurological illness causing involuntary movements, severe emotional disturbance and cognitive decline. Huntington's disease usually strikes in mid-life, in the thirties or forties, although it can also attack children and the elderly. There is no treatment to halt the inexorable progression, which leads to death after ten to twenty-five years. Each child of a parent with Huntington's disease has a 50% risk of inheriting the illness. It they inherit the abnormal gene and live a normal life span, the disease invariably appears. In the United States, the prevalence of the disease is about 10 people per 100,000 people - about 30,000 symptomatic people in all. There are another 150,000 individuals at risk. This means that approximately 100,000 people may need therapy daily if taking a drug to prevent the disease from ever occurring - a preferred mode of treatment.

Because Huntington's disease destroys so many different capabilities - intellectual, physical and emotional - the insights gained from research on this illness are relevant to the understanding of many other diseases, including schizophrenia, manic depression, Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease and cancer. By focusing on Huntington's disease as a model, the Hereditary Disease Foundation targets neurological and genetic functions relevant to a broad spectrum of disorders.

The Hereditary Disease Foundation (http://www.hdfoundation.org) was founded in 1968 and is dedicated to finding a cure for Huntington's disease and related disorders. The HDF's unique combination of creating and funding innovative, strategic research has sparked an explosion of knowledge in the scientific field. Breakthroughs by the HDF's
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