Specialists work to overcome Huntington's disease

The Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA) recognizes the Huntington's Disease Clinic and Research Group at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as one of only 17 national Huntington's Disease Centers of Excellence. The State of Iowa recognizes the month of May as Huntington's Disease (HD) Awareness Month.

Huntington's disease is an inherited, degenerative disease that results in the progressive loss of control of both the mind and body. HD typically begins in mid-life, between the ages of 30 and 45. Each child of an affected parent has a 50 percent risk for inheriting the disease. Presently, there is no effective treatment or cure for this deadly illness that affects 30,000 Americans and places another 200,000 at risk.

The HDSA Center of Excellence at the UI provides medical care, education and research opportunities to families in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota.

The directors of the HD Center of Excellence at the UI are Jane Paulsen, Ph.D., Robert Rodnitzky, M.D., and Henry Paulson, M.D. Paulsen, chair of the Center of Excellence committee for the Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA), has pioneered work in neurobehavioral and brain imaging aspects of HD in pre-symptomatic subjects. Rodnitzky has led more than 50 studies in experimental therapeutics for patients with movement disorders, such as HD and Parkinson's disease. Paulson, a member of the HDSA's medical and scientific advisory board and the steering committee of the Coalition for the Cure, is recognized for his basic research on HD and related genetic diseases.

Huntington's disease progressively affects an individual's ability to walk, talk, think and reason. The gene that causes HD was discovered in 1993. Though at present there is no cure, the HDSA has stated that its goal is to "make this the last generation with HD." The HDSA relies upon the generosity of individual sponsors and donors to support research and care programs. Your support is crucial to maintaining our commitment to combating the illness.

To contact the Huntington's Disease Center at the UI for information about the disorder, call Anne Leserman, family service coordinator, at 319-353-4307, or visit the Center online at www.uihealthcare.com/HuntingtonsDisease.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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