University of London researchers have recently made a leap in Huntington’s disease research with the identification of a blood biomarker that could predict the onset and progression of the disease.
The blood-based biomarker will allow development of new therapies which could delay the disease, researchers say.
“This is the first time a potential blood biomarker has been identified to track Huntington’s disease so strongly,” UCL Institute of Neurology senior author Dr. Edward Wild said in a recent Xtalks article.
“The biomarker is a protein that is released by damaged neurons known as neurofilament light chain (neurofilament),” Wild said in the article.
Wild’s research tracked 366 people in the international study called TRACK-HD, according to the article. Researchers found participants' brain protein increased from the presymptomatic to advanced as they had predicted.
While more research is needed, Wild said identification of the biomarker will help lead to disease slowing therapeutics, the Xtalks article states.
“I can see neurofilament becoming a valuable tool to assess neuroprotection in clinical trials so that we can more quickly figure out whether new drugs are doing what we need them to,” Dr. Robert Pacifici, chief scientific officer at the CHDI Foundation, a Huntington disease research foundation, said.