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Academic Innovations
January 5, 2005

Scientists Scope Out Huntington Disease

JAMA. 2005;293(1):29. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.29

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).

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