Killing Two Birds With One Stone

A recent study has been conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine that has discovered a possible link between Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that is believed to be caused by genetic mutations and environmental factors. The disease ultimately leads to a change in the nervous system that affects one’s movement and often times those with the disease develop a tremor. Huntington’s disease is inherited from a parent and it causes a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. The symptoms include movement disorders, cognitive disorders, and psychiatric disorders. Although, the disease of Parkinson’s and the disease of Huntington’s have very distinct differences scientists believe that they may have discovered a commonality between the two through an experiment using DNA sequencing.

The researchers at Boston University analyzed the brains of those who died from Parkinson’s disease, those who died from Huntington’s disease, and those with no known disorder and then compared the genes between the different groups. In their findings they discovered that if the brain responds to these diseases similarly then there also might be a common treatment for both of them. According to Adam Labadorf, the director of the BU Bioinformatics Hub “These findings suggest that a common therapy might be developed to help mitigate the effects of different neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system”. This information may lead to many other discoveries in the medical field, but it is most likely that new drugs will not develop immediately because the group is still in the early stages of their experiment. The information does hold the potential to lead to a clinical trial despite it still being researched  which further suggests the importance of this discovery and the lived that it has the ability to affect. Researchers believe that the idea of a link between diseases in a gene not only exists between Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, but also between diseases like Alzheimer’s and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

In addition, if a link is proven with hard evidence a drug could soon start being developed, but instead of treating the diseases separately they could begin to be treated together. A great amount of money would be saved by only having to research the cure for one disease rather than two and if the common link between Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease is related to the cause and the cure then a singular drug could be developed for both diseases. This discovery has shed light onto the importance of the analyzing of genomes and the impact it has on the future of medicine. Without being able to sequence the human genome many diseases would go without a cure because of the inability to pinpoint the exact location or gene that causes that disease or disorder. In the future, the hope for researchers is to completely eliminate diseases that have a possible link in their genes and to in the meantime gain the ability to treat the symptoms of these diseases using the important technique of genome sequencing to help guide them.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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