Future therapies for stroke may block cell death

Jun 14, 2007

A new therapy to re-activate silenced genes in patients who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases or stroke is being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Cornell University.

During and after a stroke, certain cellular events take place that lead to the death of brain cells. Compounds that inhibit a group of enzymes called histone deacetylases can modulate gene expression, and in some cases produce cellular proteins that are actually neuroprotective -- they are able to block cell death.

"For the first time, we show which one of the 11 histone deacetylase enzymes might be the best target to achieve cellular neuroprotection," said the study's lead investigator, Alan Kozikowski, professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy and director of the drug discovery program at UIC. "This work gives us a good direction to follow in testing histone deacetylase inhibitors in animal models for diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, and even stroke."

Stroke can cause permanent neurological damage or even death if not promptly diagnosed and treated. It is the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States.

A great deal of research has gone into developing histone deacetylase inhibitors as novel therapeutics, but the majority of the work has been directed toward cancer, Kozikowski said -- in which case, paradoxically, the compounds are employed to stimulate the death of rapidly multiplying cells. The molecule known as SAHA recently received approval by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cancer therapy and is the first of the histone deacetylase inhibitors to be marketed.

"The use of histone deacetylase inhibitors in medicine would thus appear to hold tremendous promise," Kozikowski said. But to be clinically useful, he said, drugs must be designed that are able to discriminate between various forms of histone deacetylase.

Kozikowski said the new findings, performed in collaboration with Dr. Brett Langley at the Burke-Cornell Medical Research Institute in White Plains, N.Y., are significant, and that "other exciting results are on the horizon." Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that other histone deacetylase inhibitors they have designed show promise for pancreatic cancer, while yet another, in work performed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, may be effective against malaria.

"This is a new area of drug discovery for the 22nd century," Kozikowski said.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

2 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

2 hours ago

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

Icelandic volcano sits on massive magma hot spot

2 hours ago

Spectacular eruptions at Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland have been spewing lava continuously since Aug. 31. Massive amounts of erupting lava are connected to the destruction of supercontinents and ...

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

2 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

NBCUniversal settles with unpaid interns for $6.4M

3 hours ago

NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on "Saturday Night Live" and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents.

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

6 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

9 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0