Large, multi-center clinical trial planned in Lou Gehrigs disease
A family of antibiotics that includes penicillin may help prevent nerve damage and death in a wide variety of neurological diseases, including Lou Gehrigs disease, dementia, stroke, and epilepsy, Johns Hopkins researchers have found. The antibiotics beneficial effects, discovered in experiments in the lab and with mice, are unrelated to their ability to kill bacteria, the researchers report in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature. Instead, the drugs squelch the dangerous side of a brain chemical called glutamate by turning on at least one gene, thereby increasing the number of "highways," or transporters, that remove glutamate from nerves.
"It would be extremely premature for patients to ask for or take antibiotics on their own," says the studys leader, Jeffrey Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and a professor of neurology and of neuroscience. "Only a clinical trial can prove whether one of these antibiotics can help and is safe if taken for a long time."
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