Promising drug trial encourages families affected by Huntington's Disease

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) "It's really the first good news I've had in all these years."

Brian Wishneff says he's very excited and optimistic, after the news that a drug trial has produced what some medical experts are calling a breakthrough in the treatment of Huntington's Disease.

For the first time, a drug has lowered the level of toxic proteins that cause the neurological disease. And a major pharmaceutical company has licensed the rights to develop and market the drug.

Wishneff lost three members of his immediate family to Huntington's, and he was diagnosed about ten years ago.

Earlier this year he traveled to The Vatican and met Pope Francis with other families affected by the disease. He has worked to raise awareness and has participated in medical research.

Wishneff says he has been buoyed by the enthusiasm he is hearing from doctors and medical experts he trusts.

"My experience has always been that they're super conservative," Wishneff told WDBJ7. "The doctors, researchers, the association are very conservative, so I've never seen them so enthusiastic in their response."

The next step is a larger global trial that will test whether the new drug can slow progression of the disease.

Wishneff says the news confirms the value of medical research and the need to include adequate funding in the federal budget.