One giant leap for Huntington’s disease research

A group of local people whose lives are touched by Huntington’s disease are to take part in a skydive to raise money for important research into the condition at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD).

The team of six is led by Charly Honey, 24, who has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, and includes John Honey (Charly’s granddad), Lewis, Josh and Kieran Fedrick (Charly’s cousins) and her friend Courtney Matthews.

The skydive will take place at Perranporth Airfield on the morning of Sunday 7th August.

The intrepid team is part of a wider local group raising money for research into Huntington’s disease at PUPSMD. The group has set itself the target of £20,000 for specialist equipment and they have already raised £8,000 through a variety of events.

Charly said: 

“Last year we all went on a visit to the labs at PUPSMD to meet the team trying to find a treatment for Huntington’s disease, which was organised by Jamie Lake who, along with his dad, also has the condition. We enjoyed meeting Dr. Shouqing Luo and his colleagues and learning more about their fantastic research. We were so impressed that we decided to focus our fundraising activities on raising money for research here in Plymouth.”

Researchers from PUPSMD received a grant of nearly £520,000 from the Medical Research Council, to investigate the potential of manipulating activity at a cellular level in order to develop an effective therapy for Huntington’s disease.

The team will analyse a protein called Bim, which causes cell death in various tissues including those of the brain. At present it is unclear how Bim levels and activity increase in Huntington’s disease, and the study will aim to identify the mechanism which allows this increase. By understanding the mechanism and how it works, the way could be open for manipulating it to create an effective therapy for the disease.

Huntington’s disease is an hereditary disorder of the nervous system caused by a faulty gene on chromosome four. The faulty gene leads to nerve damage in the area of the brain resulting in gradual physical, mental and emotional changes. Those born to a parent with Huntington’s disease have a 50:50 chance of developing it, and there is currently no cure.

Paola Simoneschi, Trusts and Foundations Manager at Plymouth University, commented: 

“We are immensely grateful to Charly and her family and friends for arranging this skydive in aid of our research into Huntington’s disease. We are always impressed at the dedication, innovation and success of the local group raising money for us in the area – they are a great example of how a group of people affected by a particular condition can work with their local research teams to help find a solution.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to Charly and her team members can do so by emailing Liz Fedrick at lizfedrick33@gmail.com.