City scientists lead the way with new research

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SCIENTISTS in Sheffield hope a pioneering Europe-wide research project into a rare degenerative brain disorder affecting young people will help them come closer to a cure.

Experts in the city used Huntington’s Awareness Week to announce they are leading an initiative aimed at helping those with Juvenile Huntington’s Disease.

JHD is thought to affect just 300 people in the UK and the research team is collecting data from 35 young people across the continent with the condition in a bid to learn more

Consultant clinical geneticist Dr Oliver Quarrell, who is running the study for Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are extremely pleased to be leading this scheme across Europe and hope that by honing the information we get from families we can improve our patient assessments.

“As there are so few patients with JHD it’s taken a lot of work to find enough patients for us to monitor, but now our study is big enough to show important results.

“Hopefully, this can lead to patients with JHD taking part in trials which could eventually yield a cure.”

Huntington’s Disease is an inherited, degenerative brain disorder which can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Every child of a parent who carries the HD gene has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the abnormal gene.

A child who inherits the HD gene will eventually develop the illness, although usually not until adult life.

The research team said HD affects one in 10,000 people and five in 10,000 people are at risk.