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Huntington’s Drug Approved

Posted by medliorator on August 20, 2008

[Tetrabenazine / Xenazine] will not cure the condition and it has some potentially serious side effects, such as raising the risk of suicidal behavior. However, it does provide relief for a major disabling symptom of Huntington’s: chorea

The drug works by reducing the amount of a chemical, dopamine, available at key junction sites in the brain. Dopamine is essential in communicating signals between nerve cells, but in people with Huntington’s this system is overactive. By reducing the amount of dopamine available at certain sites in the brain, the drug decreases the involuntary movements associated with Huntington’s.

1st US drug for Huntington’s disease wins approval [Yahoo News]

In some non-US countries, tetrabenazine (Xenazine) has been available for a while (35 years).  However, the FDA in the USA requires pre-approval testing that is more stringent than in most countries.  It has been difficult to do testing that is acceptable to the FDA, because good testing requires large numbers of patients.  The disease is sufficiently rare (4 to 10 cases per 100,000 persons), that it is a challenge to get enough patients.  Also, the disease progresses slowly, so there isn’t a quick way to know if the drug is working.

On 15 August, 2008, the FDA announced that tetrabenazine has been approved for the treatment of Huntington’s Disease.

Tetrabenazine (Xenazine) For Huntington’s Disease [Corpus Callosum]

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One Response to “Huntington’s Drug Approved”

  1. […] Huntington’s Drug ApprovedBy reducing the amount of dopamine available at certain sites in the brain, the drug decreases the involuntary movements associated with Huntington’s. 1st US drug for Huntington’s disease wins approval … […]

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