Huntington’s disease, also known as HD, was first described on February 14, 1872 by a man named George Huntington, a family practitioner. About thirty thousand (30,000) Americans have HD and about one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) more are at risk of inheriting the disease from a parent. The actual HD gene was not discovered until nineteen-ninety-three (1993), almost one hundred and twenty-five (125) years later! HD is a disease that affects all races, genders, and ages, which makes it more difficult to classify.
There is no known cure for Huntington’s disease at this time for humans, however at the University of California, there is a pharmaceutical used to treat cancer that may be able to cure HD. Studies are still being done, but at this time, a fruit fly has been cured of HD with this medicine. “We are extremely excited by these dramatic findings that could have immediate therapeutic relevance,” said Dr. Nancy Wexler, President of the Hereditary Disease Foundation. If this treatment is found to work, it will be the only one that will treat Huntington’s disease itself. There are many medicines that will help to cover up the symptoms, meaning that it may swathe the symptoms, but there are no drugs so far that will help to cure the disease. There is one drug, Haldol, which is prescribed for HD patients, but research has been done and it has proven to worsen Huntington’s disease. .
There are many symptoms of Huntington’s disease. Some of the symptoms are muscle spasms, tics, rigidity, falling down, difficulty physically producing speech, and, in the later stages of the disease, difficulty swallowing. The difficulty of swallowing will lead to a great loss of weight. Those are all physical symptoms of HD. There are cognitive symptoms, too. A cognitive symptom has to do with the way you perceive things. Some cognitive symptoms are the altered organization and generally slowed processing of information in the brain.