Every Contribution Matters
Research is vital in increasing our understanding of HD, improving the quality of life for those impacted by HD, and also providing hope for viable treatments and a cure.
Research continues to progress through the collaboration between you-our community, our invaluable HD researchers and your association. When you participate in research, your contribution not only helps in the study you are involved in, but is often a starting point for new or further research.
Huntington’s Victoria proudly partners with the Huntington’s Research Group of Victoria (HRGV) who are extremely active in HD research. You can view some of the local research below, and find out how you can become involved.
Prof. Anthony Hannan
DISSECTING DISEASE MECHANISMS TO IDENTIFY PROMISING TARGETS FOR NEW THERAPIES
Research Duration: Ongoing
Dr Carolina Gubert
EXPLORING THE GUT MICROBIOME AND GENE-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS IN HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE: TOWARDS NOVEL THERAPEUTIC APPROACHES TO DELAY DISEASE ONSET AND PROGRESSION
Research Date: 01/01/2019
TARGETING THE HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE GUT MICROBIOME
Research Duration: January 21 – December 2022
Our research includes using a model of Huntington’s disease where we are following up our discoveries regarding the beneficial effects of environmental enrichment (enhanced cognitive stimulation and physical activity) and exercise, to identify potential new therapies. Using a transgenic mouse model of HD, our group has made progress in understanding changes that lead to cognitive, psychiatric and motor symptoms.
We were the first group to demonstrate depression-like behaviors in a preclinical model of HD, and the first to relate cognitive dysfunction to in vivo deficits of experience-dependent brain plasticity. We were also the first to show that environmental factors, including environmental enrichment, exercise and stress, can modify onset and progression of HD. Most recently, we discovered that the trillions of bacteria living in the gut are abnormal in HD mice (this is called ‘gut dysbiosis’), and this discovery has been translated by Melbourne colleagues.
Our ongoing research aims to use this model of HD to identify novel targets for new therapies. We use cutting-edge technologies to identify key molecules that we can target with candidate therapies, including novel drugs. We then use this preclinical model of HD to test these therapies. Promising candidates can then be progressed to clinical trials.
For further information about the study please contact:
Professor Anthony Hannan
Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Email: [email protected]
Website: Professor Anthony Hannan – Florey
Our laboratory has extensively contributed to our understanding of gene-environment interactions in Huntington’s disease (HD), including the beneficial effects of cognitive stimulation and physical activity. Environmental enrichment and exercise interventions mimics a stimulating lifestyle, which has been shown to positively impact different neurodegenerative conditions, including HD, where Anthony Hannan and colleagues made the original discoveries. These approaches have been able to ameliorate neurodegenerative phenotype, emotionality-related behaviours and cognitive effects in HD transgenic mice. We are interested in this project to understand the promising actions of these interventions on the differential gut microbial profile (microbiome) presented in HD mice, also previously discovered by the Hannan Laboratory at the Florey Institute. To achieve this goal, we use cognitive and behavioural tasks, as well as genetics, genomics and bioinformatics tools. These results will be crucial to our understanding of the physiological role of these environmental interventions on gut microbial profile in HD, and will help us identify new therapeutic targets to delay onset and progression of this devastating disease.
Many people with Huntington’s disease lose weight unintentionally and experience gastrointestinal disturbances, which affect their quality of life. As people with Huntington’s disease struggle with symptoms that lack adequate treatments, there is a critical need to understand how non-pharmacological interventions such as lifestyle factors (e.g., diet, exercise, sleep) can be used to enhance quality of life until appropriate pharmacological treatments are found. This research project is investigating the bacteria within the gut and the relationship between gut health and clinical indicators of Huntington’s disease such as mood, weight, and thinking and memory. Our study is completely remote, meaning that participants can do the study from home. We use online questionnaires, cognitive tasks via mobile app and telehealth, and ask for a faecal sample to be sent by post. Results of this research will provide the knowledge that we need about the Huntington’s disease gut to make lifestyle recommendations and inform other interventions that can help with gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., change in diet, taking supplements such as probiotics). This research project is funded by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America HD Human Biology Project Fellowship awarded to Dr Yifat Glikmann-Johnston. Outside of work, Yifat is an eager yogi and dog lover. Her two German shepherd dogs take her out for a walk every day!
For further information about the study including eligibility and participation requirements please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9903 4695
Turner Institute of Brain and Mental Health
Room 412, Level 4, 18 Innovation Walk
Monash University, Clayton VIC 3800
Pubu Abeyasinghe (Pubuditha Abeyasinghe)
EXPLORING COMPUTATIONAL MODELLING TO PREDICT DISEASE PROGRESSION IN HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE USING COMBINED IMAGE-HD, PREDICT-HD AND TRACK-HD DATASETS
Research Date: 07/10/2019
EXPERIENCE OF DEPRESSION IN PEOPLE WITH HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE AND THE FACTORS LINKED TO THIS POPULATION
Recruitment date: Closed
SLEEP QUALITY AND CIRCADIAN TMING IN HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE AND THEIR IMPACT ON COGNTIVE FUNCTIONING
Recruitment date: Ongoing
Applications of computational modeling in Huntington’s disease is a promising avenue in research directing towards predicting the disease progression. In the past few years, researchers have shown the positive impacts of modeling the disease progression to find the most sensitive biomarkers not only in Huntington’s disease but also in other neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s’ disease. We are interested in applying computational modeling techniques to the combined data sets from IMAG-HD, PREDICT-HD and TRACK-HD studies to find a model that could explain the disease progression across studies with high accuracy. In the process of developing the model we aim explore and incorporate not only the clinical measures but also the behavioral and imaging measures and find the best combination of measures that results in the highest predictability of disease progression. These modelling techniques will be crucial to understand the level of contribution of each measure to disease progression which then can be used in the advancement of developing more effective treatment methods or therapeutical approaches targeting the most sensitive measures, to delay the neural degeneration and the subsequent onset of the Huntington’s disease.
Hiba is a Clinical Neuropsychology PhD student at Monash University, and is completing her doctoral project in the Stout lab. Hiba loves being out in nature and spends her weekends going on long walks or drives to scenic areas (when lockdown permits!). She also enjoys travelling and is determined to visit Turkey as soon as the borders open!
As part of her research, Hiba is investigating the experience of depression in people with Huntington’s disease and the factors linked to depression in this population. Hiba is about to finish recruiting for this study and hopes to share her findings with the broader HD community very soon.
Emily Fitzgerald is a student researcher at Monash University, who is currently completing her third year of the Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Neuropsychology. Outside of research, Emily loves playing outdoor soccer, travelling to regional Victoria, listening to true crime podcasts and cuddling her border collie and golden retriever.
As part of her current research, Emily examines sleep quality and circadian timing in Huntington’s disease and their impact on cognitive functioning. Sleep problems are very common in HD, with up to 90% of people self-reporting some form of sleep disturbance. How sleep relates to HD symptoms is poorly understood, particularly in those with premanifest HD. The goals of Emily’s study are to determine sleep quality and its effects on thinking and disease severity in people with premanifest HD. To do this Emily uses sleep tracking devices, questionnaires and cognitive assessments. The findings from her study will help inform early interventions that may improve cognitive symptoms by first improving sleep quality.
If you would like more information or to participate you can contact email via email at [email protected]
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