What is Huntington’s Disease? (Definition)

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited (genetic) disorder which causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. The disease impacts a person’s physical and mental abilities, resulting in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorders. Huntington’s disease is caused by a mutation in the gene for a protein called huntingtin. The defect causes the cytosine, adenine, and guanine (CAG) building blocks of DNA to repeat many more times than is normal. Although medications are available to help manage symptoms, there is no cure for Huntington’s disease.

Most people with Huntington’s disease develop signs and symptoms in their 30s or 40s, but the onset of disease may be earlier or later in life. Every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene. Today, there are approximately 30,000 symptomatic Americans and more than 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease.

Huntington’s Disease Signs and Symptoms Information

There are a wide variety of symptoms which can be associated with Huntington’s disease. These symptoms and signs can include cognitive issues, motor or movement problems and psychiatric disorders. Symptoms vary depending on the individual affected, but in general, the following symptoms may be noticed:

Symptoms Include:

  • Personality changes, mood swings & depression
  • Insomnia
  • Involuntary jerking, unsteady gait or writhing movements (chorea)
  • Forgetfulness & impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing & significant weight loss
  • Muscle problems, such as rigidity or muscle contracture (dystonia)
  • Slow or abnormal eye movements
  • Experiencing feelings of irritability, sadness or apathy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks or prioritizing
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Unaware of one’s own behaviors
  • Slowness in processing thoughts
  • Difficulty in learning new information
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

See below for updated news and information regarding Huntington’s Disease including new medical research, treatment options and advancements. 

Latest Huntington's Disease News

Hungtington’s Disease Treatment News: Researchers Identify Type of Cell Death That May Lead to Effective New Therapies

(TOKYO MEDICAL AND DENTAL UNIVERSITY) According to a recent press release, researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) identify novel type of cell death in Huntington's disease that may uncover new treatments ...
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New Details Emerge About How Huntington’s Disease May be Triggered

(RICE UNIVERSITY) According to a recent press release, Rice University scientists have uncovered new details about how a repeating nucleotide sequence in the gene for a mutant protein may trigger Huntington's and other neurological diseases ...
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Researchers Identify New Biological Markers to Measure Progression of Inherited Huntington’s Disease

(ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY PRESS) According to a recent press release, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have identified several new biological markers to measure the progression of the inherited neurodegenerative disorder Huntington's disease (HD). Their findings, which will be published online November 7 ahead of issue in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, could benefit clinical trials that test new treatments ...
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Researchers Uncover New Information on Molecular Mechanisms that Cause Huntington’s Disease

(CENTER FOR GENOMIC REGULATION) According to a recent press release, the research just published by a group of scientists from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) led by Eulàlia Martí, in cooperation with researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) and August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), has brought to light new information on the molecular mechanisms that ...
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