Huntington's protein may be kidnapper

12:06pm, April 25, 2001

Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder affecting 250,000 Americans, is

a case of biochemical woe. Tangles of protein collect in brain cells. The tissue

dies, leaving gaping holes in people's brains. But the protein–dubbed

huntingtin–doesn't kill cells directly. Instead, it kidnaps another protein

essential for cell survival, researchers report in the March 23 Science.

Christopher A. Ross of Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore and his

colleagues demonstrated in a test tube how huntingtin contributes to cell death.

The scientists were also able to halt the process, saving doomed human cells.

Huntington's disease is a fatal disorder that begins in midlife and eventually

destroys muscle control and cognitive abilities. It's caused by a single mutated

copy of the gene for huntingtin. The damaged gene makes a version of the protein

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