Huntington Disease Patients Have Lower Chance of Developing Cancer

A new study by Northwestern scientists shares that patients with Huntington’s disease are much less likely to develop cancer because the disease is toxic to cancer cells, recently reported by News Medical Life Sciences. The Huntington’s disease community has an 80% less cancer of developing cancer compared to the normal population. Scientists are hoping to use this knowledge to treat cancer to non-Huntington patients.

Huntington’s disease is a genetic and often fatal disease. It causes deterioration of one’s physical and mental ability. Huntington’s caused by an excessive amount of repeated RNA sequences that happen in the Huntington gene, which is present in all cells. This defect, which promotes the symptoms of the disease is also deathly to tumor cells. To read more about Huntington’s disease, click here.

Marcus Peter, senior author from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, shared that this molecule kills all tumor cells, which is a powerful thing they’ve never seen before. The study was published in EMBO Reports journal on February 12th.

Recently, Peter partnered with Dr. Shad Thaxton, urology associate professor at Feinberg, to test this “killer” molecule as a treatment option. Dr. Thaxton planned to target human ovarian cancer in mice with the molecule. They found that the treatment did reduce the growth of the tumor, without causing harm to the mice. Additionally, the tumor did not resist this treatment. The two continue to work on refining the method.

Andrea Murmann, also from Feinberg, did a similar test to see if the molecule would kill cancer cells in mice and humans with ovarian, breast, prostate, lunge, liver, brain, colon and skin cancer. The molecule was successful in killing all types of cancer cells.

While much more needs to be done, Peter believes that this method could lead to a successful short-term treatment that kills all the cancer cells, but also doesn’t cause any damage or symptoms that those with Huntington disease face.

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