Aug 18, 2008
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever treatment for Huntington's disease—the crippling illness that killed folksinger Woody Guthrie and that plagues 30,000 Americans.
Tetrabenazine, known commercially as Xenazine, was originally developed in the 1950s to treat symptoms of psychosis. It's not a cure-all for sufferers of the disease. Rather, it addresses a primary symptom of Huntington's—which is seen in 90 percent of patients: involuntary, spastic movements. According to a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center were able to reduce these movements in 54 patients by an average of 25 percent.
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