"These drugs have been tested in a variety of Huntington's disease models and some HD human trials and results are very difficult to interpret," said Dr. Ilya Bezprozvanny, associate professor of physiology and senior author of the study, available online and published in today's issue of Neuroscience Letters. "For some of these drugs conflicting results were obtained by different research groups, but it is impossible to figure out where the differences came from because studies were not conducted in parallel.
"We systematically and quantititatively tested the clinically relevant drugs side-by-side in the same HD model. That has never been done before," said Dr. Bezprozvanny.
Huntington's disease is a fatal genetic disorder, manifesting in adulthood, in which certain brain cells die. The disease results in uncontrolled movements, emotional disturbance and loss of mental ability. The offspring of a person with Huntington's have a 50 percent chance of inheriting it.
More than 250,000 people in the United States have the disorder or are at risk for it. There is no cure, but several drugs are used or are being tested to relieve symptoms or slow Huntington's progression.
The disease affects a part of the brain called the striatum, which is involved in the control of movement and of "executive function," or planning and abstract thinking. It primarily attacks nerve cells called striatal medium spiny neurons, the main component of the striatum.
Dr. Bezprozvanny's group previously demonstrated that Huntington's striatal neurons are oversensitive to glutamate, a compound that nerve cells use to communicate with each other.
In the latest UT Southwestern study, the researchers cultured striatal spiny neurons from the brains of mice genetically engineered to express the mutant human Huntington gene. As predicted, glutamate killed the Huntington's neurons, but the scientists also tested five clinically relevant glutamate inhibitors to assess their protective ability.
Folic acid has been suggested as a treatment for people with Huntington's because it interacts with homocysteine, a compound that makes nerve cells more vulnerable to glutamate. Gabapentin and lamotrigine, both glutamate inhibitors, are used in epilepsy treatment and as a mood stabilizer, respectively. These three compounds did not significantly protect the cultured cells.
However, a drug called memantine, which is used to treat Alzheimer's disease, and riluzole, used in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, did protect the cells. Memantine demonstrated a stronger effect in the study. Memantine has also shown evidence of retarding the progression of Huntington's in people, while riluzole has helped relieve some symptoms.
"Our results provide the first systematic comparison of various clinically relevant glutamate pathway inhibitors for HD treatment and indicate that memantine holds the most promise based on its in vitro efficacy," Dr. Bezprozvanny said. "Whole animal studies of memantine in an HD mouse model will be required to validate these findings."
Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Drs. Jun Wu, research associate in physiology, and Tie-Shan Tang, instructor in physiology.
The work was supported by the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the High Q Foundation and the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke.
Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
New method opens crystal clear views of biomolecules
11.02.2016 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Scientists from MIPT gain insights into 'forbidden' chemistry
11.02.2016 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
11.02.2016 | Life Sciences
11.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
11.02.2016 | Earth Sciences