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Cluster Buster: Might a simple sugar derail Huntington's?

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8:27am, January 21, 2004

People with Huntington's disease gradually lose neurons in their brains as defective protein molecules clump together inside those cells. Scientists in Japan now report that a simple sugar called trehalose can impede this protein aggregation in test-tube and animal experiments.

Trehalose joins a growing list of potential Huntington's disease fighters (SN: 2/15/03, p. 102: Available to subscribers at Huntington's Advance: Drug limits disease effects in laboratory mice; 11/24/01, p. 332: Available to subscribers at Cancer drugs may thwart Huntington's). These include proteins that prevent enzymes from triggering cell death, antibiotics, and other compounds that inhibit protein aggregation.

In an upcoming Nature Medicine, the Japanese researchers demonstrate that among mice with a version of Huntington's disease, those fed trehalose outlive their littermates and better fend off the disease.

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