disease is a disorder passed down through families in which certain
nerve cells in the brain waste away, or degenerate. American
doctor George Huntington first described the disorder in 1872.
Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect on chromosome #4.
The defect causes a part of DNA, called a CAG repeat, to occur many
more times than it is supposed to. Normally, this section of DNA is
repeated 10 to 35 times. But in persons with Huntington's disease, it
is repeated 36 to 120 times.
As the gene is passed on from one generation to the next, the number of
repeats - called a CAG repeat expansion - tend to get larger. The
larger the number of repeats, the greater your chance of developing
symptoms at an earlier age. Therefore, as the disease is passed along
in families, it becomes evident at younger and younger ages.
Professor Richard Faull
Professor Richard Faull was awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 1975 to
undertake post-doctoral research on the brain with leading
neuroscientists in the US. In the 30 years since his return to the
University of Auckland, where he is now Professor of Anatomy, Richard
has established an international reputation for his studies on human
In November 2007 he was awarded New Zealand’s top science award, the
Rutherford Medal, by the Royal Society of New Zealand for his
innovative research studies on the human brain. He also serves as Chair
of the New Zealand Harkness Fellowships Trust Board.
P O Box 146 Hamilton 3240