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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 16;104(42):16685-9. Epub 2007 Oct 9.

A small-molecule therapeutic lead for Huntington's disease: preclinical pharmacology and efficacy of C2-8 in the R6/2 transgenic mouse.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by a glutamine expansion within huntingtin protein. The exact pathological mechanisms determining disease onset and progression remain unclear. However, aggregates of insoluble mutant huntingtin (mhtt), a hallmark of HD, are readily detected within neurons in HD brain. Although aggregated polyglutamines may not be inherently toxic, they constitute a biomarker for mutant huntingtin useful for developing therapeutics. We previously reported that the small molecule, C2-8, inhibits polyglutamine aggregation in cell culture and brain slices and rescues degeneration of photoreceptors in a Drosophila model of HD. In this study, we assessed the therapeutic potential of C2-8 in the R6/2 mouse model of HD, which has been used to provide proof-of-concept data in considering whether to advance therapies to human HD. We show that, at nontoxic doses, C2-8 penetrates the blood-brain barrier and is present in brain at a high concentration. C2-8-treated mice showed improved motor performance and reduced neuronal atrophy and had smaller huntingtin aggregates. There have been no prior drug-like, non-toxic, brain-penetrable aggregation inhibitors to arise from cell-based high-throughput screens for reducing huntingtin aggregation that is efficacious in preclinical in vivo models. C2-8 provides an essential tool to help elucidate mechanisms of neurodegeneration in HD and a therapeutic lead for further optimization and development.

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