Huntington’s disease (previously called Huntington’s chorea) is an inherited disease that damages nerve cells in the brain. This causes deterioration and loss of function over time in many aspects of brain function. The damage particularly affects movement, thinking, judgement and behaviour. There is currently no effective cure or treatments to slow down the damage to brain cells. Huntington’s is usually diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 55, but it can be earlier or later, and gradually progresses over 10-20 years with worsening symptoms.
In every case, Huntington’s disease is caused by an inherited fault in the huntingtin gene, located on chromosome 4. This faulty gene produces a larger than normal version of the huntingtin protein, which causes irreversible damage to sensitive brain cells. If a parent has Huntington’s, they usually have one copy of the faulty gene and each of their children has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene, meaning that they will develop the disease at some point. This type of inheritance is called autosomal dominant.
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