Often lesser known diseases do not get the media or pharmaceutical company attention that better known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease receive. Two of these lesser known diseases are Huntington’s disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1, and they are no less devastating to patients, family, and friends as the better known diseases.
Dr. Juan Botas, associate professor of molecular and human genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, hopes that his recent discovery will attract the attention of pharmaceutical companies and stimulate further drug research.
Symptoms for both Huntington’s disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1 show up in adulthood and are both polyglutamine disorders. Polyglutamine interferes with how protein is used by the cell.
What Botas found is that Huntington’s disease and Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1 share genetic modifiers that cause nerve cell damage. This is something that may make developing treatments for the diseases more attractive to biotech companies.
The researchers compared the 2 diseases in models of fruit flies and found that some genes modify the polyglutamine similarly for both diseases.