University gets grant for Huntington's disease research

The research will look into potential treatments for the neurological disease

University gets grant for Huntington's disease research

The grounds of NUI Galway | Photocall file photo

An professor at an irish university has received a newly launched research grant to provide new findings that will underpin his research on identifying potential treatments for Huntington’s disease.

The BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK) - Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) joint research grant awarded funding of almost €700,000 between NUI Galway and the University of Leicester.

Professor Robert Lahue is just the second NUI Galway researcher to be funded under this new award scheme.

Professor Lahue will co-lead a research programme with Professor John Schwabe, which will focus on the regulation of proteins that are responsible for causing neurological disease.

Professor Robert Lahue, NUI Galway

Speaking about the new research grant, Professor Lahue said: "The BBSRC-SFI joint funding offers a wonderful opportunity for discovery research that is linked to human health [...] Together, we aim to answer important questions about how HDAC3 is connected to the disease."

Science Foundation Ireland and the BBSRC have entered into this new agreement to welcome, encourage and support research applications that cut across national boundaries involving collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and Ireland.

What is Huntington's disease?

Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive and movement defects. It is debilitating, untreatable and often fatal. Children are sometimes affected more severely than their parents.

Current research into Huntington’s disease has identified a potential therapeutic target, an enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3). This enzyme is thought to dysregulate a number of important biochemical mechanisms in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients, leading to disease.

Professor Lahue’s recent research also links HDAC3 to the genetic mutation that afflicts Huntington’s disease patients. The BBSRC - SFI joint research programme will focus on the molecular mechanism of how HDAC3 exacerbates the genetic basis of Huntington’s disease.

Importantly, this project will use basic science approaches to explore the novel idea that HDAC3 causes genetic mutations.