RESEARCH Protein link to brain diseases

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The Independent Online
British and German researchers have reported significant progress in understanding how brain cells die in people suffering from Huntington's chorea, as well as two other degenerative brain diseases.

The findings of the researchers, published in the journal Cell, indicate that Huntington's chorea is caused by a build-up of proteins inside the cell, which eventually kills it. A similar process may be at work in two other crippling brain disorders, Alzheimer's disease and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

Priority will now be given to screening for drugs that inhibit the protein buildup. "We all know what we think the primary event [cause] is, so we can start working on a cure, perhaps by stopping these aggregations from forming," said Dr Gillian Bates, of Guy's Hospital in London.

Huntington's chorea is an hereditary degenerative disease that causes premature death of nerve cells in the brain, triggering mental and physical deterioration. It is characterised by involuntary movements of the body and dementia.