Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have shown that rifampicin, an antibiotic used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis, can prevent the formation of protein fibrils associated with the death of brain cells in people with Parkinsons disease. The drug also dissolved existing fibrils in laboratory tests.
The researchers studied the effects of rifampicin in test tube experiments and are currently doing studies with cell cultures and mice to see if the same effects occur in living cells. Although these are just the first steps along the path toward clinical studies in humans, the findings suggest that rifampicin and related compounds might be effective in preventing fibril formation and associated neurological damage in patients with Parkinsons disease, said Anthony Fink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSC. "Clearly, more work is needed to determine if this would work therapeutically, but if it does it would probably be most useful as a prophylactic therapy used in the early stages of the disease before there is general neurological damage," Fink said.
The research was carried out by a team of scientists in Finks lab, including postdoctoral researchers Jie Li, Min Zhu, and Sudha Rajamani and research associate Vladimir Uversky. Li is first author of a paper describing their results in the November issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology, which is mailed and published online on November 29.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
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