Huntington's who's got talent

A successful and popular local Who’s Got Talent competition held in front of a live audience at The Devonport Playhouse, Plymouth, has raised £1100 to support research into Huntington’s disease at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.

The winner of the competition was dance act Hollie Chapman, who won a cup and £250. There were also separate prizes for junior and senior acts.

The winner was chosen by a panel of judges, including Marcus Alleyne, Sue Hooper and Edward Jacobs. The event also included a presentation from local Huntington’s fundraiser and Pride of Plymouth finalist, Jamie Lake.

The event was run by a group of local volunteers including Gaye Woods, Kaye Bonner, Maggie Lutley, David Hunter and David Bailey Liz Fedrick. Said Liz: 

“This was our seventh year for Devonport Who’s Got Talent and it is a superb showcase for local performers. This year we are delighted to have raised £1100 to support research into Huntington’s disease being carried out at Plymouth University. We decided to do this after a visit to the labs to see the research for ourselves and to meet the research team.”
This is not the first time that Liz and her group of volunteers have held an event to raise money for this research. In August they raised £600 by holding a karaoke night at The Two Bridges Inn in Saltash.

Local supporters of Huntington’s disease research have tasked themselves with raising £20,000 for a specialist piece of equipment called a Thermo Scientific Multiskan GO Microplate Spectrophotometer. This measures cell viability and levels of toxic proteins that are present in cells in neurological conditions such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.

Dr Shouqing Luo who heads up the Huntington’s disease research at Plymouth University, said: 

“Our local supporters are wonderful and we are extremely grateful for all the hard work, creativity and enthusiasm they are putting in to raising funds for this important piece of equipment. It makes us all the more determined to find a therapy for this debilitating disease.”
Plymouth researchers are investigating the potential of manipulating activity at a cellular level in order to develop an effective therapy for Huntington’s disease.

The team re analysing 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.

If you would like more information about research into Huntington’s disease, would like a laboratory tour or make a donation towards the equipment, please visit or contact Paola Simoneschi, Development Manager, Medical and Health, at or on 01752 588021.