What is Huntington's Disease?

It is usually characterised by involuntary movement and intellectual, emotional and behavioural problems.In most cases HD is a "late" onset disease and symptoms generally appear when a person reaches their mid thirties or forties. In rare cases HD may develop in childhood or as late as seventy years of age.
Treatment of HD and research into its causes has greatly improved in recent years. The HD gene was isolated in 1993 but there is still no cure for the disease.Huntington's Disease (HD) is caused by a defective gene which results in the gradual destruction of neurons (brain cells), particularly in those parts of the brain known as the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex.
The defective gene can be passed from one generation to the next. If a parent has the gene, each child has a 50/50 chance of either inheriting or escaping it.
If a person inherits the defective gene it will eventually become active and brain cells in the body's central nervous system will start to die. This is when a person begins to develop the symptoms of HD.

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What is Motor Neurone Disease?

Motor neurone disease (MND) is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells - neurones - controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow; undergo degeneration and die.

Motor function is controlled by upper motor neurones (UMN) in the brain that descend to the spinal cord; these neurones activate anterior horn cells - lower motor neurones (LMN). The LMN exit the spinal cord and directly activate muscles. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. The patterns of weakness vary from person to person.

Motor neurone disease occurs at similar rates in most countries of the world. It is estimated that there are presently around 400,000 people worldwide diagnosed with MND and about 2000 people with MND in Australia. Slightly more men than women are diagnosed with MND, most commonly in the 50 to 60 year age group. However, MND may be diagnosed in adults at any age.

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