Scientists have created a new mouse model for spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), a disease characterized by adult-onset progressive weakness and degeneration of limb muscles, often resulting in the patient being confined to a wheel chair. SBMA causes the death of cells called motor neurons that control muscle function. The study, published in the March 4 issue of Neuron, presents a clearer picture of the pathology underlying SBMA and associated diseases and even points to a possible therapeutic strategy for this debilitating condition and for more common motor neuron diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), that currently have no proven treatments.
SBMA belongs to a group of neurodegenerative disorders, called polyglutamine diseases, that includes Huntingtons disease and spinocerebellar ataxias. Polyglutamine diseases are thought to arise because of a mutant protein that is misfolded and subsequently clumps together to form toxic aggregates that destroy cell function and cause disease. In SBMA, a mutated gene directs production of androgen receptors with an abnormal number of consecutive residues of the amino acid glutamine. Dr. Albert R. La Spada and colleagues from the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle created transgenic mice containing the human androgen receptor carrying 100 glutamine repeats. The mice developed a gradually progressive limb weakness around mid-adulthood that was accompanied by motor neuron degeneration, strikingly similar to what is seen in human SBMA patients. The researchers determined that the abnormal androgen receptor interfered with production of a molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that is important for the general health and survival of motor neurons. Interestingly, VEGF could rescue SBMA-like motor neurons grown in the laboratory.
The researchers conclude that VEGF may play a pivotal role in motor neuron degeneration. "Our findings in SBMA suggest that activation of the VEGF pathway may be one way that the motor neuron protects itself from harmful insults and stresses. Studies of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also point to the VEGF axis as critical for motor neuron health, so it is distinctly possible that all motor neuron diseases share interruption of the VEGF axis as part of their pathogenesis," explains Dr. La Spada. "If this is true, then it would have dramatic implications for treatment of motor neuron diseases."
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences