Throughout the course of human history, we have discovered a great number of medical mysteries. Some of them are not threatening and can be easily solved while others have already been proven to be extremely complicated and difficult to understand. One of them is Huntington’s disease (HD), a medical condition also known as Huntington’s chorea.
Its exact mechanism of action is still unknown to medical researchers, but the symptoms have been well documented. The first ones include mild twitching or jerking, both of which happen involuntarily but as the disease progresses they become extremely worse. During the final stages, the patient cannot speak and is facing increased difficulty even when trying to swallow. The mental condition also declines leading to dementia in the overwhelming majority of cases. However, the scientific community recently offered hope.
A team of scientists based in the Imperial College of London in the United Kingdom managed to create a protein that has the ability to block the function of the mutated gene responsible for the development of the condition, and not allow it to produce a type of toxic proteins. Even though it has not been proven, the prevalent theory suggests that these proteins are responsible for the final part of the dormant phase of the disease and, once accumulated, they start causing the aforementioned symptoms.
The new engineered protein that has been given the name “zinc finger“ recently managed to stop the operation of the gene, thus halting the activity of the disease for the period of six months.
This invention becomes even more amazing once we read about its progress. The idea and existence of the zinc fingers is not new. In fact, it’s been present for a few years now. The remarkable thing is that this new, improved version extended the time of the effect from just a few weeks back in 2012 to six months according to the latest studies on mice.
Given the very complicated nature of the disease, it should come as no surprise that even after all these years (it was first described by George Huntington in 1872) the amount of scientific data and treatment options are both very limited. This is the main reason for which this type of studies should get sufficient funding in order to allow us to defeat this disease. Constant observation and research, when done properly, sooner or later offer us the results we are seeking.