, Dr. Sam Frank, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Massachusetts
Identifying novel neuroimaging biomarkers in early pre-manifest Huntington’s disease
Although genetic testing can reveal whether Huntington’s disease will develop, it cannot reliably predict when symptoms will begin. As a result, deciding when to administer new treatment strategies through clinical trials will remain challenging. In other words, testing a potential new treatment too early or too late may fail to impact disease progression. Therefore, we need more accurate models of disease onset and progression in HD. Recently, innovative brain imaging methods have been used to look at brain function through the lens of interactions between brain networks. These methods have started revealing early changes prior to the start of clinical HD symptoms. This proposal seeks to study presymptomatic individuals to better understand how specific brain networks interact during challenging cognitive tasks. Combining specific tasks with simultaneous brain imaging constitutes a type of cognitive stress test that will show brain changes earlier than they would otherwise appear. If successful, results from this study will help determine the optimal timing for eventual disease modifying treatments.