Huntington's Disease

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Huntington's Disease: Understanding a Mutation

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Neurological Disease 1 in 5

Brain diseases are thought to affect 1 in 5 New Zealanders. 

That probably means that we all know of people who are impacted either in our whanau / family or amongst our friends.  

Is your family / whanau affected by brain disease?

Click here to participate in the poll.

The Seminar Paper and Challenge Questions

  Huntington's Disease: Understanding a Mutation

Seminar Paper       Pre-Seminar Focus Questions

Post Seminar

Challenge Questions

  • Download the seminar paper and read this in preparation for your in-school workshop prior to the seminar on March 17th, 2011.

  • The CHALLENGE QUESTIONS are for discussion in your school workshop after the seminar.
  • Make sure that you post your ideas and answers to the challenge questions here.
  • This page will be monitored by teachers and scientists who will respond to your discussion.

Post a question for the seminar

If you would like to ask a question about the seminar paper before the seminar please click here. Questions will be answered during the seminar.

View the seminar powerpoint

A copy of the seminar powerpoint is available here for download.

Seminar LiveChat



  • You need a username and password to enter the chat. If you don't have one you need to register for the seminar series. This needs to be done BEFORE the day of the seminar.
  • Join livechat during the seminar to talk to participating students throughout New Zealand and ask questions of the scientists.
  • Most questions will be answered during the seminar; either during the chat, or at the end of the broadcast.
  • Any questions that are not answered during the seminar will be answered afterwards on the wiki.


Watch the Seminar later

Click here to watch the seminar.

Click here to download a copy of this seminar.

About the Presenters

Professor Richard Faull   |    Professor Mike Dragunow   |   Pritika Narayan   |  Jacquie Bay

Useful Resources 

The Brain

The Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland

New Zealand Brain Week 14 - 21 March 2011.  See the web site for events throughout New Zealand

Neurological Foundation of New Zealand

The Marvels and Challenges of the Human Brain. Audio from RSNZ 2010 Science Lecture Series - Brain and Behaviour, broadcast 31 Oct 2010

Brain Fitness: How to improve your brain. Audio from Radio New Zealand Afternoons, broadcast 26 Feb 2008

The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction from the National Institutes of Health and Drug Abuse (USA).

Huntington's Disease

H.O.P.E.S Brain Tutorial

Chial, H. (2008) Huntington's disease: The discovery of the Huntingtin geneNature Education 1(1)

Gene Hunter - an interview with Professor Anne Young, one of the researchers who mapped the location of the Huntington gene. NZ Listener, April 2 , 2011

Huntington Disease DNA Learning Centre's Multimedia Guide - Your Genes,Your Health

Huntington's Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University  A guide to the science of Huntington's disease

How huntingtin kills neurons From The Scientist 11th August 2010

Bates, G. P. (2005). History of genetic disease: the molecular genetics of Huntington disease - a history. Nature Review Genetics, 6(10), 766-773.

References from the student paper

Thu, D.C.V., Oorschot, D.E., Tippett, L.J., Nana, A.L., Hogg, V.M., Synek, B.J., Luthi-Carter, R., Waldvogel, H.J.,& Faull, R.L.M.(2010). Cell loss in the motor and cingulated cortex correlated with symptomatology in Huntington’s disease. Brain,133: 1094-1010.
Curtis, M.A., Kam, M., Nannmark, U., Anderson, M.F., Axell, M.Z., Wikkelso, C., Holtas, S., van Roon-Mom, W.M., Bjork-Eriksson, T., Nordborg, C., Frisen, J., Dragunow, M., Faull, R.L.,& Eriksson, P.S. (2007). Human neuroblasts migrate to the olfactory bulb via a lateral ventricular extension. Science, 315:1243–1249 (Free access to the paper with registration)


Pray, L.A. (2008) Embryo screening and the ethics of human genetic engineering. Nature Education 1(1)
Genes, Society and the Future (University of Otago and NZ Law Foundation Project)

Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology

Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology

Attitudes to Embryonic Stem Cell Research in New Zealand The Bioethics Council of New Zealand

The Cultural, Ethical and Spiritual Aspects of Using Human Embryos for Research. The Bioethics Council of New Zealand

 Who gets born? A report on the cultural, ethical and spiritual issues raised by pre-birth testing. The Bioethics Council of New Zealand
Erez, A., Plunkett, K., Sutton, V. R., & McGuire, A. L. (2010). The right to ignore genetic status of late onset genetic disease in the genomic era; Prenatal testing for Huntington disease as a paradigm. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 152A(7), 1774-1780.

Maori attitudes to assisted human reproduction Dr Marewa Glover of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences School of Population Health is the author of a study into Maori attitudes to assisted human reproduction. Dr Marewa has kindly provided a copy of this report for use by students and schools.  Click here...........

Tikanga Māori, Mātauranga Māori & Bioethics The Bioethics Council of New Zealand


Simmons, D. (2008) Epigenetic influences and disease. Nature Education 1(1)
Epigenetics  Genetic Science Learning Centre, University of Utah

Stem Cells

Expert Advice on Stem Cells (for Beginners)

Stem Cell Basics (from The National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, USA)

Understanding Stem Cells (Resource book from the National Academies of Science, USA)

Links to your school programme

This seminar links to the following NCEA Level 3 Achievement Standards:

  • AS 90714 Biology 3.2 Research a contemporary biological issue
  • AS 90715 Biology 3.3 Describe the role of DNA in relation to gene expression
  • AS 90718 Biology 3.6 Describe applications of biotechnological techniques

A list of objectives from your Year 13 programme that link into the seminar can be found in the Seminar Discussion Paper.