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Huntington's Disease: Understanding a Mutation

The learning resources presented in these web pages focus on the role of mutations in disease. The disease explored is Huntington’s disease (HD), a disease of the brain caused by the inheritance of a mutated autosomal dominant allele of the Huntington’s gene. We will explore the concept of mutation, and look at how scientists are using a range of resources to understand the Huntington’s mutation and its effect on the body.

About the Learning Resources


Huntington’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder (disease of the nervous system: brain, spinal cord and nerves). Huntington’s commonly presents when a person is 30 - 40 years old. The nerve cells in the brain begin to deteriorate, affecting movement, cognitive processes and mood. This means that there are very real and life-altering consequences for those who live with the disease and for their families/whanau who support them. There is no cure for Huntington’s but medication can diminish symptoms.


Scientists face difficult ethical questions as they work to understand Huntington’s disease and find a potential cure. These resources will show you something of the journey of question, uncertainty and discovery that scientists are undertaking to find out more about HD.


The resources and discussions in these pages will also provide an opportunity for you to review the concepts of epigenetics and gene expression, mutations and explore the use of different bio-technologies in the treatment of Huntington’s such as stem cell therapy.

Resource Links


What is Huntington's Disease?

Find out about the onset, symptoms, causes and treatment of Huntington’s disease.



Understanding Huntington’s Disease Case Study

Find out more about the work of scientists at Auckland University and the Centre for Brain Research in the prevention and treatment of Huntington’s disease. 



Discussion Questions

Resource questions designed to further discussion on the subject of Huntington’s Disease.


Question and Answer

Challenge Questions

Further questions on the subject of Huntington’s Disease designed to stimulate more in-depth conversation and learning.



Seminar Recording

An in-stream version of the seminar series the resources on these web pages originate from.



Seminar Paper

Download the seminar paper.



Links to Curriculum and Assessment of Learning

Information for teachers on how these resources link to current curriculum objectives.



Further Resources

Additional resources for teachers to further understand the resources presented in these web pages.