Aided by an innovative microscope that makes it possible to track the
fate of individual neurons, researchers have uncovered evidence that could
put an end to the long-standing controversy over the role of abnormal protein
deposits in the brains of patients with Huntington disease.
For years, researchers have debated whether inclusion bodies—aggregates
of abnormal deposits of a protein called huntingtin—cause nerve cells
to die or are protective or incidental to neuronal death. Now, Steven Finkbeiner,
MD, PhD, and colleagues at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease
at the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered that inclusion
body formation is a beneficial coping response of diseased neurons (Nature. 2004;431:805-810).
Hampton T. Scientists Scope Out Huntington Disease. JAMA. 2005;293(1):29. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.29