‘Darkness replaced by hope and light’: taking stock of Huntington’s disease research

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As the Huntington’s disease community in 2015 enters a promising phase of clinical trials for remedies that might slow or halt the progression of the disease, one of the world’s leading HD scientists recently took stock of the significant progress made over the past several decades.
“The horizons for therapy were very far away,” Michael Hayden, M.D., Ph.D., the President of Global Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, said during a February 10, 2015, presentation about his company’s latest efforts to defeat HD.
Dr. Hayden recalled how, 40 years ago, HD was virtually unknown in his native South Africa and many other countries. HD-afflicted people faced stigma and were left to cope with their disease “in isolation and despair,” Dr. Hayden remembered of his first contact with the disease as a young medical student.
“It was just a dream then that there would be pharmaceutical companies interested in Huntington disease,” he said. (In some countries HD is referred to as “Huntington,” not “Huntington’s.”)
However, as Teva and other companies work towards HD treatments, the outlook has changed dramatically.
“We are now in a place of really tremendous hope,” Dr. Hayden declared enthusiastically. “The darkness is replaced by hope and light. At the end of the tunnel we are seeing this light now, not only with this [Teva’s] drug but other trials you are hearing about.”
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