Blood Test Can Predict Onset And Track Progression Of Huntington’s Disease

The first blood test that can predict the onset and progression of Huntington’s disease has been identified by a UCL-led study.

The researchers say their findings, should help test new treatments for the genetic brain disorder, which is fatal and currently incurable.

“This is the first time a potential blood biomarker has been identified to track Huntington’s disease so strongly,” said the study’s senior author, Dr Edward Wild (UCL Institute of Neurology).

The test measures the neurofilament light chain (neurofilament), a protein released from damaged brain cells, which has been linked to other neurodegenerative diseases but hasn’t been studied in the blood of Huntington’s disease (HD) patients before.

The team, led by scientists at the UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre working with colleagues in Sweden, the USA, Canada, France and the Netherlands, measured neurofilament levels in blood samples from the TRACK-HD study, an international project that followed 366 volunteers for three years. They found that levels of the brain protein were increased throughout the course of HD — even in carriers of the HD genetic mutation who were many years from showing symptoms of the disease. HD mutation carriers had neurofilament concentrations that were 2.6 times that of the control participants, and the level rose throughout the disease course from premanifest to stage 2 disease.

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