Genetics has allowed medicine to move beyond treating symptoms and start treating the underlying causes of disease.
“No diseases are hopeless anymore,” says Dr. Hayden. “The way I see them is that their secrets have just not yet been identified.”
Dr. Hayden’s work focuses on understanding the genetic roots of illness and using that understanding to develop better approaches to treatment for patients. He researches diabetes, coronary artery disease, and is part of a large collaboration to determine the genetic basis for adverse drug reactions in children. Much of his career has also been dedicated to understanding the development of Huntington disease and finding a way to cure it.
“When we started working on Huntington disease, the future was dark and patients and families felt hopeless,” says Dr. Hayden. “Today, that has all changed.”
Researchers in the Hayden laboratory have found a critical pathway in the development of juvenile forms of Huntington’s disease. Blocking the action of caspase-6 prevents the progression of the disease in mice. This finding could lay the groundwork for an effective approach to therapy for Huntington disease.