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Scientists ID Proteins Implicated in Huntington's Disease

Finding may spur treatments for fatal nervous system disorder

FRIDAY, May 11, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Scientist say they've spotted more than 200 new proteins that bind to normal and mutant forms of the protein that causes Huntington's disease (HD).

They believe the finding may help in efforts to develop an effective treatment for the fatal, inherited nervous system disease.

Researchers led by Robert E. Hughes, of the Buck Institute for Age Research in California, used high-tech screening of the human genome and proteome, followed by experiments in fruit flies genetically altered to express features of human HD.

The team found that changing the expression of these newly-identified proteins affected the degree of damage that occurred in the flies' neurons. This suggests that a large number of these proteins may be potential drug targets for HD.

. The findings are published online in the May 11 issue of the journal PLoS Genetics.

The next step of this research involves screening and analyzing the new proteins in cultured mammalian cells. The proteins that show activity in ongoing experiments will then be tested in mice with HD.

"Here at the Buck Institute, we're going to be focusing on a few dozen proteins," Hughes said in a prepared statement. "Effective follow-up on any target protein depends, in large part, on how much expertise a scientist has with that target. We are hoping that researchers will look at this study and that those with specific expertise in a particular protein will move forward with their own inquiries."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Huntington's disease.

SOURCE: Buck Institute for Age Research, news release, May 10, 2007
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