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Silencing Huntington's chorea: Is RNA Interference a Potential Cure?

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Author(s): Nafisa M. Jadavji | Afra Foroud | Ian Q. Whishaw | Gerlinde A. Metz

Journal: Impulse : an Undergraduate Journal for Neuroscience
ISSN 1934-3361

Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Huntington’s chorea | Symptoms | Treatments | CAG repeat | Gene Therapy | RNA interference | Sleeping Beauty transposition system

ABSTRACT
In 1872, George Huntington described Huntington's disease as characterized by motor, cognitive and psychiatric impairments. Huntington's disease is a dominant and autosomal mutation on chromosome 4 featuring the insertion of numerous CAG repeats. CAG codes for the amino acid, glutmanine that forms part of the Huntingtin protein (htt). Excess glutamine attachments make htt prone to accumulate in neurons. Three genes can be considered when developing therapies for Huntington's disease. They include targeting the symptoms of the disease, the progression of the disease and the cause of the disease. By using RNA interference (RNAi), the cause of the disease can be targeted. RNAi is a method that could potentially silence the formation of abnormal htt. This paper will discuss how RNAi could potentially cure Huntington's disease, by describing the genetic and proteinomic basis of Huntington's disease, the function of RNAi in Huntington's disease and the problems of benefits of RNAi. Preliminary work using RNAi in transgenic mice has shown a decrease in the behavioural expression of the mutant Huntington gene. There are several limitations associated with using RNAi as a gene therapy. For example, the effects of RNAi are short lived. A transposition system such as Sleeping Beauty can be used to increase the integration of the gene, however, for patients who currently have Huntington's disease, RNAi may potentially be used in combination with drugs or other treatments to target both symptoms and the underlying cause of Huntington's disease. This combination could eventually alleviate many painful symptoms associated with Huntington's disease and could even stop the progressive neurodegeneration of Huntington's disease. This review concludes that a substantial amount of new research is still necessary before RNAi is directly applicable to human patients with Huntington's disease.
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