re glutamate and huntingtons

john wagstaff jw0207 at
Tue Oct 11 09:34:11 EST 1994

michele collett (mcollett at wrote:
: Hi there:

: I have been wondering why, if glutamate supposedly causes the destruction
: of the caudate which results in the onset of Huntingtons, since the gene
: is detectable, they cant give a chronic
: administration of a glutamate agonist or antagonist (I cant remember
: if its too little glutamate or too much thats the problem) or the
: neurotransmitter from birth or puberty to delay and hopefully prevent
: the disease.  

: As anyone can tell I know almost nothing about the subject but it seems
: so possible.  Please respond, this question is driving me bats.

: Michele

It is too much glutamate that causes neurotoxicity (termed
excitotoxicity).  Gluatamate antagonists have gone to clinical trials for
diseases such as epilepsy and ischemia, but have shown severe side-effects
such as psychosis, and (at least for MK-801) have shown their own
neurotoxicity.  Theoretically these drugs should be great therapeutic
tools for avariety of diseases, so the search goes on for a good one with
fewer side-effects.

Hope this helps,
John Wagstaff
Pharmacology & Toxicology
University of Utah

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