We are greatful for the efforts of those in the San Diego, Los Angeles, and other California HDSA chapters as well as Robert Pacifici from CHDI for their work and participation in California's stem cell initiative for Huntingtons!

Research published last week ushers in a new and highly exciting stem cell era. Two groups of scientists from independent laboratories have reprogramed human skin cells to turn into cells that have the same characteristics as embryonic stem cells. Dr Goodman reviews these studies and how they may have impact for Huntington's treatment.

Last week, the ALS Study Group, which is similar to the Huntington Study Group published distressing results from a large phase III clinical trial testing minocycline in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Results had been released to the ALS community in May, 2007, warning them to stop this drug. Of interest for the HD community, ALS scientists first privately and then publicly expressed concern about testing this drug in other neurodegenerative diseases. In this article Dr. Goodman reviews the study, discusses possible reasons for concern, and recommends against its use in Huntington's outside of clinical trials.

It is beginning to look like RNA therapy might become a reality for Huntington's disease. While there can still be unforeseen problems, a recent announcement from CHDI and ISIS Pharmaceuticals tells us that very important steps demonstrating efficacy and safety have been made. This is very good news because a potent RNA drug will stop Huntington's at its source, and we could let ourselves say the "cure" word.

On December 6, members of the Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drug Advisory Committee unanimously voted to recommend FDA approval for tetrabenazine. This is a huge step forward because the FDA almost always follows the recommendations from it's advisory committees.

Earlier this week the FDA Revitalization Act became law. Though the major thrust of this legislation addresses drug safety and conflict of interest in FDA scientific advisory committees, there are several changes that are of special interest for the HD community.

If you are near Boston on December 1st, it will be more than worth the trip to the Inaugural Huntington Disease Clinical Research Symposium, hosted by the Huntington Study Group. This meeting is the first of its kind, and means that research for Huntingon people is on center stage.

Drug safety has understandably been much in the press recently -- but speeding good new drugs to those who need them most is equally critical.

Serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs) treat depression and many other symptoms in Huntington's. While these actions are very important, SSRI drugs do much more. Studies show that they are neuroprotective, or able to limit HD damage to the brain. Studies also show that they promote neurogenesis or the development of new brain cells in mouse models. With all of these benefits for symptoms and neuroprotection, Dr. Goodman wonders why these drugs are underused in HD.

Two recent reports in prominant medical journals tell us that high doses of antioxidant supplements including Beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium, used separately or in combination are not helpful for chronic medical problems, and indeed may cause harm.