A new assessment tool that can predict the clinical onset of Huntington’s disease is set to pave the way for more targeted treatment for sufferers.
The tool was developed by Edith Cowan University's Huntington's Disease Research Group.
Huntington's disease, for which there is no cure, is a genetic disorder that causes progressive deterioration of motor control, cognitive function and mental well-being, eventually leading to death.
While currently it can be diagnosed with a genetic test, it can be years or even decades before symptoms appear.
Predicting disease progression
ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences researcher Dr Travis Cruickshank said his team found that impairments in posture predicted the onset of Huntington’s symptoms.
The researchers detected the impairments using specially designed moving plates that measure balance.
"This is exciting because this assessment could help to facilitate an earlier diagnosis of clinical onset and enable early treatment and interventions for individuals with Huntington’s disease, which may slow disease progression," Dr Cruickshank said.
"We have previously shown that multidisciplinary therapy improves physical function, including balance, mobility, strength and manual dexterity for people with Huntington’s disease.
"This new assessment tool will give us the chance to further refine and improve how we deliver this program for even better results."
Dr Alvaro Reyes, from Universidad Tecnologica INACAP in Chile, who also contributed to the research, said the assessment tool could also prove valuable in assessing the effectiveness of new drug agents for Huntington's disease.
"This test could allow researchers to more accurately assess the effectiveness of new drug therapies for Huntington’s disease."