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The UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre opens

2 March 2017

Huntington's Disease Centre opening - cutting of ribbon

We are delighted to announce that the UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, was officially opened on 1 March by UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur.

Directed by Professor Sarah Tabrizi FMedSci and co-directed by Professor Gill Bates FRS, and bringing together expertise from many disciplines, the Centre is uniquely placed worldwide to translate mechanistic insights into first-in-human studies in HD.

The Centre will answer important questions of early diagnosis and mechanistic understanding which will help refine and redefine disease, preparing for precision medicine and driving therapeutic innovation.

Professors Tabrizi and Bates, who together are world leaders in bench-to-bedside Huntington’s disease (HD) research, will be working alongside Dr Ed Wild, a new Principal Investigator in the Centre.

Tabrizi and Bates have already made considerable contributions to every aspect of HD research, from gene identification, underlying molecular mechanisms, animal modelling, therapeutic target validation and experimental medicine. Their basic science research programmes are focussing on the identification and validation of therapeutic targets that are proximal to the HD mutation and one of the first screening assays to be established by the ARUK DDI at UCL will be based on their work.

"I am delighted to have been recruited to UCL to establish the HD Centre with Prof Tabrizi. Our combined research programmes underpin all aspects of the translational pipeline, and will enable the HD Centre to make a significant contribution to the development of treatments for HD".  Professor Gill Bates, Co-Director of UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre

It is this translational research approach that will underpin the Centre’s overarching aim to develop and test effective therapies for HD, and to set the ground work to eventually prevent the clinical disease occurring completely

Linking with the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre (LWENC), the Centre is able to conduct first in man and proof-of-concept studies in patients prior to initiating larger phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, including their novel huntingtin-lowering trials.

"The creation of the UCL HD centre comes at a key time in HD research with potential disease modifying gene silencing trials in phase 1 with more in the pipeline. This bench-to-bedside research approach will underpin our aim to develop and test effective therapies for HD that prevent the clinical disease occurring. We believe we are pivotally placed to be able to translate effective therapies to patients affected by this terrible disease". Professor Sarah Tabrizi, Director of UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre
"The lessons taken from the Centre’s impressive work will also help our wider understanding of neurological diseases and dementia, and link with the aims of the Institute of Neurology and the UCL led UK Dementia Research Institute: to transform the pace and power of research to find treatments for neurological diseases". Professor Mike Hanna, Director of the UCL Institute of Neurology

Further information:

Image: Provost Michael Arthur and HD family member Amanda Staveley ; Credit: Kirsten Holst