A protocol for studying the combined use of lithium and valproate in Huntington’s subjects was approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Chuang pointed out, and he would have been a co-investigator. But the trial did not get off the ground because the principal investigator left NIH. In any event, in light of these new findings, “I very much hope that some clinicians will be interested in conducting a trial using both lithium and valproate for Huntington’s,” he said.
Meanwhile, findings from a few small, short clinical trials do suggest that lithium or valproate might benefit Huntington’s patients. For example, a 1973 trial found that lithium treatment strikingly reduced chorea and markedly improved voluntary movements in Huntington’s subjects. And a 2000 trial found that valproate helped relieve both movement disorders and psychosis in the subjects.
The research was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health.
An abstract of “Combined Treatment With the Mood Stabilizers Lithium and Valproate Produces Multiple Beneficial Effects in Transgenic Mouse Models of Huntington’s Disease” is posted at <www.nature.com/npp/journal/v36/n12/full/npp2011128a.html>.