NUI Galway Researcher Awarded Grant to Study Potential Huntington’s Treatments

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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grant to study brain development in children at risk for HD

NUI Galway researcher and Professor Robert Lahue has been awarded a newly launched grant to investigate potential treatments for Huntington’s disease.

The grant is a joint initiative of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK (BBSRC) and the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The grant will provide nearly 700,000 Euros in research funding.

Lahue works at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and at the Galway Neuroscience Centre and is the second NUI Galway researcher to be awarded with the new funding. He will co-lead the program with Professor John Schwabe, who will focus on the regulation of the proteins responsible for causing Huntington’s.

An enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) has recently been identified as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of Huntington’s. This enzyme is thought to be responsible for the dysregulation of a series of key biochemical mechanisms in the brain which in turn might lead to the development of Huntington’s.

Lahue’s current research is also investigating the link between HDAC3 and the genetic mutation that affects Huntington’s disease patients. Histones are proteins that play a critical role in gene regulation and developmental events.

In the joint research program, the two investigators will focus on the molecular mechanism of HDAC3 to explore how the enzyme potentially exacerbates the genetic cause of the neurological disease using basic science approaches.

“The BBSRC-SFI joint funding offers a wonderful opportunity for discovery research that is linked to human health. We now have the chance to combine the expertise of Professor John Schwabe on HDACs with my group’s expertise in Huntington’s disease genetics,” Lahue said in a press release. “Together, we aim to answer important questions about how HDAC3 is connected to the disease.”

BBSRC and SFI have a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage and support cross-national applications involving international collaborative teams led by researchers from the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland.

Following this last round of applications which closed on Sept. 21, 2016, the BBSRC-SFI joint funding program was closed. It was a pilot program that will be subject to a review conducted jointly by the two organizations.