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Huntington’s Disease Clinic Looks Back at Milestone in Clinical Research

Dr. Martha Nance

From the Hennepin Healthcare Foundation — Hennepin Healthcare’s Huntington’s Disease Clinic has been at the forefront of clinical research and innovative treatment options. This March marked the 30-year anniversary of the discovery of the gene mutation that leads to Huntington’s Disease — an inherited disease causing the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. This discovery made possible early diagnosis and initiated pioneering experimental research at Hennepin Healthcare involving clinicians and patients. “People thought that finding the gene would be the answer to Huntington’s, but finding the gene was really just the beginning,” says Dr. Martha Nance, Director of the Huntington’s Disease Clinic.

Thanks to the selflessness of the patients in the clinic, Hennepin Healthcare was able to run clinical trials for a drug aimed at reducing the uncontrollable movements caused by neural degeneration. The participation of those patients ultimately led to the first FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of Huntington’s Disease symptoms. “My patients helped us push back the frontiers,” says Dr. Nance. “You never saw somebody as proud as one of my patients for participating in the research that brought this drug to market to help so many others with the disease.”

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