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Oculomotor Test Provides Marker of Huntington Progression

Defects in saccades a biomarker of disease progression

WEDNESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Measures of rapid eye movements between fixations can be a biomarker of disease progression in patients with preclinical and clinical Huntington disease, according to a report published online April 19 in Neurology.

C.V.P. Golding, Ph.D., from Imperial College in London, U.K., and colleagues examined oculomotor function in 12 genetically confirmed preclinical carriers of the Huntington disease mutation (six with stage 1 disease, six with stage 2 disease) and 24 age-matched controls.

The researchers found that patients with clinical disease had defects in the initiation of reflexive saccades and saccadic slowing, while preclinical carriers and those with clinical disease had deficits in the initiation of voluntary-guided saccades.

"Saccadic measures provide biomarkers of disease progression in both preclinical and early clinical stages of Huntington disease," Golding and colleagues conclude. The authors note that although they "do not consider such oculomotor testing to be of routine value, these tests can be carried out relatively easily and cheaply and can provide a valuable method for assessing patients with preclinical Huntington disease."

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