Dr. Santosh D’Mello, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Texas at Dallas, has received a major research grant from the federally funded National Institute of Heath (NIH) to further research on understanding and treating Huntington’s Disease. The grant, which totals $1.67 million dollars over 5 years, comes specifically from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke arm of the NIH, will give Dr. D’Mello and his team the opportunity to explore why and how specific brain cells are affected by the devastating, degenerative brain disorder.
Much like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease continues to affect an increasing number of Americans, and researchers still have more questions than answers on how the disease can be effectively treated. According to Phys.org, “The disorder causes parts of the brain to waste away, leading to progressively worsening symptoms ranging from behavioral changes to motor skill impairment to dementia. There is no cure or treatment that can alter the course of the disease.” The disease is a result of a genetic mutation that is passed on through heredity. The Huntington’s Disease Society of America estimates that more than 250,000 Americans either have the disease now, or could come to contract it by inheriting it through their parents.
At the center of Dr. D’Mello’s research is understanding the role that a protein called histone deacetylase-3 (HDAC3) plays in Huntington’s disease and other related degenerative brain diseases and disorders, as high levels of the protein are found in those suffering with neurodegeneration.