After decades-long research that began with neural plasticity in Songbirds, scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center have demonstrated a breakthrough method of treating Huntington’s disease that gives hope for future generations. Huntington’s disease affects a specific section of the forebrain- the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is a collection of nuclei that control numerous functions including voluntary motor movements. In Huntington’s disease, the medium spiny neurons in the striatum of the basal ganglia degenerate resulting in involuntary writhing movements.1,2
After treating endogenous neural stem cells with BDNF and noggin proteins, scientists were able to demonstrate neural regeneration of the medium spiny neurons that are affected in Huntington’s disease in both mice and squirrel monkeys. Although they are likely years from clinical trials and even farther from having a ‘cure’, their breakthrough certainly gives hope for future generations affected by Huntington’s disease as well as for the future of regenerative medicine.1
1-“Scientists Coax Brain to Regenerate Cells Lost in Huntington’s Disease.” – News Room. University of Rochester Medical Center, 6 June 2013. Web. 17 June 2013.
2–Romanian Journal of Psychopharmacology 9.2 (2008): n. pag. Web. 17 June 2013.