NUI Galway Awarded Newly Launched Grant for Research into Huntington’s Disease

Professor Robert Lahue of the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway, has received a newly launched research grant to provide new science findings that will underpin his research on identifying potential treatments for Huntington’s disease.

The BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK) – Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) joint research grant awarded funding of almost €700,000 between NUI Galway and the University of Leicester. Professor Lahue is just the second NUI Galway researcher to be funded under this new award scheme.

Professor Lahue will co-lead a research programme in conjunction with Professor John Schwabe, which will focus on the regulation of proteins that are responsible for causing neurological disease.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive and movement defects. It is debilitating, untreatable and relentlessly fatal. It is a particularly cruel disease as children are sometimes affected more severely than their parents.

Current research into Huntington’s disease has identified a potential therapeutic target, an enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3). This enzyme is thought to dysregulate a number of important biochemical mechanisms in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients, leading to disease.

Professor Lahue’s recent research also links HDAC3 to the genetic mutation that afflicts Huntington’s disease patients. The BBSRC – SFI joint research programme will focus on the molecular mechanism of how HDAC3 exacerbates the genetic basis of Huntington’s disease. Importantly, this project will use basic science approaches to explore the novel idea that HDAC3 causes genetic mutations.

Speaking about the new research grant, Professor Lahue said: “The BBSRC-SFI joint funding offers a wonderful opportunity for discovery research that is linked to human health. We now have the chance to combine the expertise of Professor John Schwabe on HDACs with my group’s expertise in Huntington’s disease genetics. Together, we aim to answer important questions about how HDAC3 is connected to the disease.”

Science Foundation Ireland and the BBSRC have entered into this new agreement to welcome, encourage and support research applications that cut across national boundaries involving collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and Ireland.