A team of scientists at Menlo Park, CA-based SRI International, a nonprofit research and development institution, found that by measuring electrical activity in the brains of mice with an animal version of Huntington's disease, they could detect the presence of disease before the onset of major symptoms.
Using a noninvasive method called electroencephalography (EEG), which measures the levels of different electrical frequencies in the brain, the team assessed changes in neuronal activity in a mouse model of Huntington's disease. The research showed that three bands in particular--what scientists call delta, theta and gamma--displayed abnormalities in the Huntington's disease mice. Speculating that significant changes in the EEG before symptoms of the disease set in would indicate brain dysfunction, the researchers hypothesize that tracking changes in the EEG could help doctors identify biomarkers of Huntington's and potentially serve as a way to screen for neurodegenerative disease.
"Our research identified abnormalities in all three of these bands in Huntington's disease mice. Importantly, the activity in the theta and gamma bands slowed as the disease progressed, indicating that we may be tracking the underlying disease process," said Thomas Kilduff, senior director of the Center for Neuroscience at SRI Biosciences.
Previous research using EEG in patients and animals with neurodegenerative diseases has shown major changes in EEG patterns only after disease symptoms occurred, so the new findings could open the door for additional research on such neurodegenerative biomarkers that could one day help track disease progression in clinical trials. The findings are published in the July 2013 issue of the journal Brain.
- here's the research abstract
- and the press release