Synthetic oil drug holds promise for Huntington’s disease

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London, Jan 12 (IANS) A synthetic oil called triheptanoin may provide hope for people with Huntington’s disease, an inherited brain disorder, suggests a study.

“Our study suggests that this drug in the form of oil may be able to improve the brain metabolic profile in early stages of the disease,” said study author Fanny Mochel from Pitie-Salpetriere University Hospital in Paris, France.

Huntington’s disease is inherited and causes nerve cells to break down in the brain, especially in the areas involved in the control of movements, memory and thinking abilities, and emotions and behaviour.

A child of a parent with Huntington’s disease has a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 30 to 50.

“We saw improvement in movement and motor skills in people with Huntington’s after one month of therapy,” Mochel added.

For the study, the researchers gave people with Huntington’s disease received triheptanoin, a compound made up of special fatty acids that can provide alternative energy to glucose in the brain.

The 10 participants had the flavourless, odourless oil during meals three or four times a day for a month.

After the experiment, the brain metabolism of the participants were found to be normal in a visual stimulation test.

“If confirmed in other studies, the findings may be hopeful for people who have the family gene for Huntington’s and will eventually develop the disease,” Mochel noted.

The study appeared online in the journal Neurology.

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