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The incurable nature of Huntington's disease and current treatments.

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Will Perren The incurable nature of Huntington's Disease In the United States, about 30,000 people have Huntington's disease; about 1 in every 10,000 people is thought to have the condition. At least 150,000 other people have a 50 percent risk of developing it, and thousands more have relatives that have this condition and therefore the risk of them having Huntington's is also increased [9]. The issue here is that the population of Huntington's disease is increasing and due to its dominant nature, it is expected to increase further. Huntington's disease is a genetic, degenerative disorder. It affects the nerves in the brain and leads to the gradual loss of function in the areas of the brain. It was previously given the name Huntington's chorea based on the choreic hand movements which is a symptom attributed to the disease [10]. It usually presents in the late 30s to mid 40s of a persons life, however it can also present earlier in adolescence and sometimes later as well. The earliest symptoms are mood swings and changes in personality. People may only be discovered to have Huntington's when they present with these symptoms or they may be screened for the causes at birth. Huntington's is caused when the gene that produces the protein Huntingtin. It is currently unknown exactly what Huntingtin's function is but it is believed to be involved within neurones in the brain and is essential in the brains development before birth. ...read more.


It also describes the other treatments and medication Pallidotomy can be seen, from this data, as an effective treatment. Regardless of the other differences and variables between patients, all patients improved after Pallidotomy surgery. However the table also shows side effects of the treatment. After surgery, patients had increased or new symptoms such as bradykinesia (slowed movements) or a decline in glottic function. This may be attributed to the surgery or just simply the normal progression of the disease. In either case, this makes the effectiveness of the surgery seem less. Still though, as all patients of any age, gender and any stage of the disease did improve, this treatment can be seen as effective but not permanent. Social and Ethical implications of the Treatments of HD Ethical - There are many ethical implications surrounding the treatments outlined earlier. Pallidotomy, and more importantly, neural transplantation is physical manipulation of the brain. Psychiatric symptoms of HD may prevent the patient from making the decision to have major brain surgery and may depend on the next of kin to make this important decision. Questions are then raised of the motives of the next of kin, which may not be in the patient?s best interest. Another ethical issue originates from the nature of the neural cells. A book written in 1999 outlines the ethical issues in medicine and describes possible ethical issues with neural transplantation [17]. Page 463 of this book raises the issue of foetal donor cells and if they should be used. ...read more.


Reference 17 is a book titled ?Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics: Volume 20, Number 5? by G.J Boer, Ethical Issues in Neurografting of Human Embryonic Cells? which outlines the possible ethical issues in neurografting using human embryonic cells. Although the book was written by a large amount of professionals, G.J Boer was the only one to author ?Ethical Issues in Neurografting of Human Embryonic Cells? pages 461-476. This therefore decreases the reliability as collaboration with other professionals would demonstrate that Boer is speaking the truth. This book was published in 1999 which means that it does not contain any relevant data taken after 1999 which decreases the validity. It was released with a series of books which were published by SpringerLink, a reputable publisher mainly concerned with medicine and humanities. The author being an expert in bioethics meaning there is no reason to distrust this source. This book uses data from previous studies and surveys to gain enough varied information to make this book reputable. Boer had released another article in 1994. Ethical guidelines for the use of human embryonic or fetal tissue for experimental and clinical neurotransplantation and research (NECTAR). Journal of Neurology 242(1): 1?13 Boer GJ (1994). As at the time of writing reference 17 Boer was already an established author on bioethics and well established. As this is the case I do feel this book is useful and gives reliable information that I have used to enforce the points made earlier. ...read more.

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