Huntinton’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which it is estimated that between 6500 and 8000 people live with in the UK. It is an dominant genetic disease passed from parents to children with increasing severity at each new generation. The main feature of Huntington’s disease in patients is the slow and progressive degradation of neural tissue in the brain. In the more common adult-onset disease, this causes drastic behavioural changes followed by progressive loss of motor control and in late stage cases can progress to dementia. In the less common juvenile form of the disease a narrower range of symptoms are seen including motor control problems.
The overriding cause of the disease is known to be an excessive number of repeats of the CAG sequence in the Huntingtin gene on chromosome 4 within the human genome. A higher number of repeats elicits an earlier onset of the disease and with each passing generation, within a family line, the number of repeats increases. This decreases the age of likely onset for the offspring of a person with the condition.
To date there is no definite cure for Huntington’s disease. Methods in the detection of the condition have progressed however, allowing physicians to identify the condition earlier through physical and neural examination along with DNA marker procedures.