Huntingtons Disease

Huntingtons Disease is caused by the genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells, called neurons. Symptoms of this include clumsiness, forgetfulness, mood swings, lack of coordination, depression, and involuntary twitching. It causes emotional disturbance, uncontrolled movements like the head, trunk and limbs, and loss of intellectual faculties. Also slowly diminishes ability to walk, think, talk, and reason. As the disease progresses, concentration and short-term memory diminish. Eventually the person is unable to care for him or herself. Becomes harder to walk, speak, and swallow. It is named for Dr. George Huntington who first described and identified it in 1872. Death can happen from choking, infection or heart failure.

Huntingtons Disease usually begins in mid-life, between 30 and 45, thought it could as early as the age of two. Huntingtons Disease affects male and females, and all ethnic and racial boundaries. Each child of a person has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene. Everyone who carries the gene will develop the disease. Huntingtons Disease is fatal, and is permanent if you carry the gene. Medications are prescribed to help control emotional and movement problems associated with Huntingtons Disease. Most drugs used to treat the symptoms have side effects such as fatigue, restlessness, or hyper excitability. But right now it is not treatable. There are no cures as of right now, but scientists say with the growing study of Huntingtons Disease a cure is forthcoming. Huntingtons Disease was described in 1872, but not discovered until 1993. Scientists are using electronics and other technologies enabling them to see what the gene does to various structures in the brain, and how it affects the bodys chemistry and metabolism. Laboratory animals are being bred with the hope of duplicating the clinical features so researchers can learn more about symptoms and progression.