Joondalup: ECU Huntington’s Disease Research Group receives $300,000 grant

Travis Cruickshank and Danielle Bartlett from the Huntington’s Disease Research Group.
Travis Cruickshank and Danielle Bartlett from the Huntington’s Disease Research Group.

AN ECU program to support people with Huntington’s disease has received a $300,000 funding boost.

The Joondalup-based Huntington’s Disease Research Group received funding from the Perpetual Foundation – Helen Leech Endowment to develop and evaluate a therapy program.

The program aims to slow development of the disease, which has no cure, and improve the quality of life of patients who have it.

Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that causes progressive deterioration of motor control, cognitive function and mental well-being.

The project will build on the group’s previous research, which found a combination of supervised exercise and cognitive training increased grey matter volume in parts of the brain that normally degenerated.

It will develop and assess a 12-month therapy coaching program involving self-administered brain training, exercise, sleep hygiene and nutrition guidance.

School of Medical and Health Sciences postdoctoral research fellow Travis Cruickshank said the key was to provide a program that participants could largely do themselves.

Dr Cruickshank said while their previous work showed they could improve people’s cognition, balance, muscle mass and strength, the high cost, specialised equipment and personnel needed made it difficult to deliver therapy on a wider scale.

“We hope to show that a coaching program can allow participants to achieve these benefits at a lower cost,” he said.

“If successful, this program will offer significant benefits to people living in remote and regional areas of the world who do not have access to these specialised services and personnel.

“Such a program could provide a scalable and sustainable solution for treating people with mild-to-moderate Huntington’s disease.”