This article was first published at At Risk for Huntington’s Disease
Researchers revealed impressive, if not conclusive, additional information at CHDI Foundation’s 13th Annual Huntington’s Disease Therapeutics Conference yesterday regarding the historic Ionis HD clinical trial: the drop in mutant protein observed in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) of participants corresponds to as much as an 85 percent decrease in the cortex of the brain, head physician Dr. Sarah Tabrizi announced.
It’s the best news the HD community has received since the publication of the research confirming the discovery of the gene 25 years ago this month. As scientists have observed, it’s also a major step for disease and drug research in general.
“The magnitude of mutant huntingtin [protein] reduction observed exceeds the effect needed for disease modification in animal models,” Dr. Tabrizi, of University College of London (the lead clinical trial site), told an audience of some 350 scientists, drug company representatives, and HD advocates at the conference in Palm Springs, CA.
Ionis officials announced in December that the Phase 1/2a trial for the gene-silencing drug IONIS-HTTRx “substantially exceeded our expectations” in safely reducing the mutant huntingtin in the CSF.
For the first time, Dr. Tabrizi’s presentation (plus an Ionis press release) specified the level of huntingtin reduction.
During the clinical trial, participants received the drug via spinal injections, and doctors measured the drug’s ability to reduce the protein by extracting CSF samples.
IONIS-HTTRx lowered mutant huntingtin an average of 40 percent, with a maximum reduction of 60 percent. As Dr. Tabrizi explained, projecting from the numerous, painstaking animal studies done by Ionis, the reductions in the cortex range from 55-85 percent.
The cortex – along with the striatum, which is critical to motor control and managing the reward system – is the area of the brain most affected by HD. It is the most developed area of the brain, the source of thought and language, abilities severely hampered by HD.
Watch Dr. Tabrizi in the short video excerpts below explain this data and thank the 46 brave clinical trial volunteers and the many others involved in the effort. I also recommend watching the full video – which includes further trial data and a helpful overview of the project by Anne Smith, Ph.D., of Ionis – by clicking here.
Source: At Risk for Huntington’s Disease