Huntington Disease Network

Huntington Disease (HD) is a devastating neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects movement and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems.

HD typically becomes noticeable in mid-adult life. It is the most common genetic cause of abnormal involuntary movements called chorea, which is why the disease used to be called Huntington chorea.

The disease stems from genetically-programmed degeneration of brain cells in selected areas of the brain. This degeneration results in uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties, and personality and emotional disturbances. Current therapy for HD consists of symptom management. There are no treatment options that control, stop or reverse the progression of the disease.

HD is a familial disease, passed from parent to child through a gene mutation. Each child of an HD parent has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the HD gene. If a child does not inherit the HD gene, he or she will not develop the disease and cannot pass it to subsequent generations. A person who inherits the HD gene will sooner or later develop the disease. The worldwide prevalence of HD is at least 1 in every 10,000 people.

In Huntington Disease, we have several ongoing research programs that we hope will move forward our ability to manage this challenging disease.

In support of these efforts, Teva has formed a global scientific research collaboration to create a comprehensive understanding and drive insights into neuroprotective therapeutic approaches in Huntington Disease.

The collaboration brings together the field's leading scientific researchers from Singapore, the United Kingdom,  Canada, Germany, United States and Israel in a coordinated and intense research program developed in Israel by Dr. Michael Hayden, one of the world’s foremost experts on Huntington Disease. The focus of the program is the interaction between laquinimod, a neuroprotective agent currently being investigated in multiple sclerosis, and various molecular pathways operative in Huntington Disease.

This innovative research approach aims to examine the potential to protect neurons against the neuronal degeneration characteristic of HD through multiple pathways such as; immune dysfunction in the periphery, inflammation in astrocytes and microglia, astrocyte activation in the brain and other important pathways.

"Huntington disease is a neurodegenerative condition that places an immense burden on the individual, their family and the community," says Dr. Michael Hayden, President, Teva Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer. "This program is an important collaboration that will provide vital insights into potential new treatment paradigms in Huntington Disease – and potentially provide a model for new approaches to the treatment of other neurodegenerative diseases."

The collaboration consists of leading Huntington Disease research centers and others, purposely selected for their expertise in specific pathways relevant to HD. They include:

  • Prof. Sarah Tabrizi, Professor of Clinical Neurology, University College London (UCL), Institute of Neurology
  • Dr. Mahmoud A. Pouladi, Translational Laboratory in Genetic Medicine (TLGM) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Biomedical Science Institutes (BMSI)
  • Prof. Ralf Gold, Department of Neurology, St. Josef Hospital/Ruhr University Bochum, Germany,
  • Dr. Blair Leavitt, Department of Medical Genetics, The University of British Colombia
  • Prof. Gareth John, Associate Professor Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Prof. Daniel Offen, Director, the Neuroscience Laboratory at Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv university

"This is a wonderful opportunity to make significant inroads into exciting new possible treatments," said Prof. Gareth John of the Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Individually, we have all been working hard to broaden our understanding - but in very specific fields. This collaboration helps us with leveraging current understanding towards hopefully identifying a route to coping with this disease."

Huntington Disease is just one of many neurodegenerative disorders that Teva is working on finding improved treatments for. In addition to HD, our pipeline includes a number of projects aimed at addressing diseases of the central nervous system and also includes programs aimed at treating Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Pain.