News articles

TRACK-HD study identifies early predictors of disease progression in Huntington’s disease

9 May 2013

An international team led by researchers at the UCL Institute of Neurology has identified a set of tests that could help identify whether - and how - Huntington’s disease (HD) is progressing in groups of people who are not yet showing symptoms.

The latest findings from the TRACK-HD study are published in The Lancet Neurology and could be used to assess whether potential new treatments are slowing the disease up to 10 years before the development of noticeable symptoms.

“Currently, the effectiveness of a new drug is decided by its ability to treat symptoms," says lead author Professor Sarah Tabrizi. "These new tests could be used in future preventative drug trials in individuals who are gene positive for HD but are not yet showing overt motor symptoms.

"These people have the most to gain by initiating treatment early to delay the start of these overt symptoms and give them a high quality of life for a longer period of time."

Writing in a linked Comment in The Lancet Neurology, Professor  Francis Walker from Wake Forest Medical School in the USA says that the TRACK-HD investigators have set the standard for observational studies in other neurodegenerative diseases. He says: “Virtual roadmaps of disease in the minds of practitioners are good for care in the framework of the traditional patient encounter, but it takes substantial effort, teamwork, and genius to turn them into rigorous, quantifiable timelines that can be used to test efficacy in future therapeutic trials.”

Read more:

Sarah J Tabrizi et al. Predictors of phenotypic progression and disease onset in premanifest and early-stage Huntington's disease in the TRACK-HD study: analysis of 36-month observational data. The Lancet Neurology. Available online 9 May 2013. DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70088-7

Francis O Walker. Huntington's disease: the road to progress
The Lancet Neurology. Available online 9 May 2013
DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70105-4

UCL news: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0513/09052013-TRACK-HD-study-identifies-early-predictors-of-disease-progression-in-Huntingtons-disease-Tabrizi

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