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!
Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
New map may lead to drug development for complex brain disorders, USC researcher says
25.07.2017 | University of Southern California
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences