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Huntington’s disease, a new project funded by CHDI Foundation 01-06-2016

Milan University awarded a new project on Huntington’s disease funded by CHDI Foundation in New York, the not-for-profit organisation exclusively dedicated to developing therapeutics for the neurodegenerative genetic disorder.

A new research project that aims to develop murine and human cellular models to study the structure and function of huntingtin, the protein that causes Huntington‘s disease (HD) kicks off on June 1st. Elena Cattaneo’s group at the Department of Bioscience will lead the new research program, which is funded by CHDI Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation exclusively dedicated to developing therapeutics for HD.

HD is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a single gene mutation. Its onset is normally observed in adults and it affects movement and cognition as a consequence of the degeneration of neurons in the striatum and cortex of the brain. The group at the Department of Biosciences has focused on HD for 20 years, and this project represents the start of a new and important cooperation between the University of Milan and the US-based Foundation.

CHDI encourages collaboration and promotes worldwide coordination to increase understanding of disease biology, and identify therapeutic targets in order to develop new drugs. CHDI also funds Enroll-HD, a worldwide observational study for HD families that comprises a network of hospitals and research centres that now has over 10,000 participants.

In the new research project, genome editing strategies as well as transcriptomic approaches will also be employed in order to decipher the mechanisms of differentiation and functional maturation of the neurons affected by the disease. This part of the program will be pursued with the collaboration of Massimo Pagani, member of the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicines of the University of Milano and Principal Investigator at the National Institute of Molecular Genetics, where Elena Cattaneo has recently relocated her lab, in the context of a new partnership agreement between the University of Milan and INGM.

The work conducted so far on HD by Cattaneo’s group has received a numbers of grants awarded on a competitive basis from, for example, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Telethon, Cariplo Foundation and the Italian Ministry for University and Research and from two recently awarded JPND projects. The new project will be managed by a “Joint Steering Committee” between the University of Milan and CHDI, an efficient mechanism that allows experimental strategies and directions to be constantly fine-tuned according to results in order to optimise the research plan.

Six researchers will be actively working on the project in Elena Cattaneo’s team as well as Tiziana Turrisi, project manager, who will facilitate the coordination between the lab and CHDI.


For more information
University of Milan
Department of Bioscience and
National Institute of Molecular Genomics
Tel. +39 02 50325841
Fax +39 02 50325843