Huntington's Disease, A Genomics Approach to Understanding.

By Jared Thistle, Undergraduate, UNH Manchester

I feel I should start this discussion with a brief discussion of what genomics means, and how it pertains to Huntington's disease, a disease which is characterized by age of onset. Genomics, is the study of genetic material, specifically the coding capabilities of the genome. Genomics can incorporate small pieces of genes, whole genes, and even entire genomes. But what does this have to do with Huntington's disease? While the main unifying factor in whether or not one would develop Huntington's disease (HD) is age, It has been found that Huntington's disease is actually a genetically inherited disease, related to the gene huntingtin. The huntingtin gene (abbreviated HTT) which codes for a protein (htt) is inherent in all people. HTT contains a segment of tri-nucleotide repeats, and if this chain gets too long it creates a mutant form. This mutant creates aggregates which become toxic to the brain, causing brain damage.

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