Huntington’s disease is an inherited progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that is caused when the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain die. Most people with Huntington’s disease start to display symptoms typically between 30 and 50 years of age, although there is also a less common form of the disease known as the juvenile form that begins in childhood or adolescence. There is currently no cure for Huntington’s disease but there are medications available to help manage the symptoms.
When learning about the disease in biology class, AP students were given the opportunity to track the inheritance of the disease. In this genetics lab, students used a family history to construct a pedigree, then used Mendelian genetics to determine the probability of fraternal twins inheriting Huntington’s disease. The students then confirmed the twins' genotypes via electrophoresis. The hands-on learning helped develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between genetics and diseases.