Protecting neurons could halt Alzheimer's, Parkinson's diseases

Nov 13, 2008

Researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) have identified a group of chemical compounds that slow the degeneration of neurons, a condition behind old-age diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Their findings are featured in the November 2008 edition of Experimental Biology and Medicine. SMU Chemistry Professor Edward R. Biehl and UTD Biology Professor Santosh D'Mello teamed to test 45 chemical compounds. Four were found to be the most potent protectors of neurons, the cells that are core components of the human brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

The most common cause of neurodegenerative disease is aging. Current medications only alleviate the symptoms but do not affect the underlying cause – degeneration of neurons. The identification of compounds that inhibit neuronal death is of urgent and critical importance.

The synthesized chemicals identified by Biehl and D'Mello, called "3-substituted indolin-2-one compounds" are derivatives of another compound called GW5074 which was shown to prevent neurodegeneration in a past report published by the D'Mello lab. While effective at protecting neurons from decay or death, GW5074 is toxic to cells at slightly elevated doses, which makes it unsuitable for clinical testing in patients.

The newly identified, second generation compounds maintain the protective feature of GW5074 but are not toxic – even at very high doses – and hold promise in halting the steady march of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"Sadly, neurodegenerative diseases are a challenge for our elderly population," D'Mello said. "People are living longer and are more impacted by diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) than ever before — which means we need to aggressively look for drugs that treat diseases. But most exciting now are our efforts to stop the effects of brain disease right in its tracks. Although the newly discovered compounds have only been tested in cultured neurons and mice, they do offer hope."

Source: Southern Methodist University

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.