Mechanism uncovered could also help preserve neuron function in Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and other neurodegenerative conditions
Research presented by Dr. Lynn Raymond, from the University of British Columbia, shows that blocking a specific class of glutamate receptors, called extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, can improve motor learning and coordination, and prevent cell death in animal models of Huntington disease. As Huntington disease is an inherited condition that can be detected decades before any clinical symptoms are seen in humans, a better understanding of the earliest changes in brain cell (neuronal) function, and the molecular pathways underlying those changes, could lead to preventive treatments that delay the onset of symptoms and neurodegeneration. “After more than a decade of research on the pre-symptomatic phase of Huntington disease, markers are being developed to facilitate assessment of interventional therapy in individuals carrying the genetic mutation for Huntington disease, before they become ill. This will make it possible to delay onset of disease,” says Dr. Raymond.