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C. A Breakthrough in Research into Huntington's Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. Huntington's Disease, which afflicts 30 thousand people nationwide, is the most common inherited neurological disorder. It's estimated that an additional 150 thousand people have the gene, but not the symptoms. Dr. Steven Finkbeiner, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, says symptoms of Huntington's disease usually begin in midlife

Finkbeiner: The most common symptom is abnormal movements of people's arms and legs. They lose the ability to control those movements. But the disorder can also cause cognitive decline, so it's difficult for people to think and can cause emotional and psychiatric disturbances as well.

Narrator: Scientists know which protein is responsible for the disease, but they don't know how the mutation causes individual neurons to die. But Finkbeiner developed a robotic microscope and computer program that are breakthroughs for research into Huntington's disease.

Finkbeiner: One of the main things this microscope does is help us look at early events, while the neuron is still alive that might still be disturbed by the expression of this abnormal protein.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.