With its incurable genetic attack on the brain, Huntington’s disease wreaks havoc on its victims and their families, leaving them helpless, bereft of hope. I felt powerless as I watched my own HD-stricken mother become a mere shadow of herself and then worried about my own onset after testing positive for HD in 1999.
However, we have reason for hope. After many years of quiet but steady progress, drug makers are beginning to harvest significant results in the quest for treatments.
Since my mother’s death in 2006, I have seen scientists move from cautious optimism to optimism and now to genuine optimism.
At the 7th Annual HD Therapeutics Conference last week in Palm Springs, CA, I observed how many of the world’s leading HD researchers are preparing for clinical trials of remedies that could prolong and improve the lives of patients – and prevent me from becoming symptomatic. Notably, this year’s conference included many pharmaceutical companies: Alnylam, Isis, Medtronic, Novartis, Pfizer, Sangamo BioSciences, and Vertex.
As I participated in the conference, I felt hope come alive for the HD community.