Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists encourage cells to make a meal of Huntington's disease

08.05.2007
Scientists have developed a novel strategy for tackling neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease: encouraging an individual's own cells to "eat" the malformed proteins that lead to the disease.

Huntington's disease is one of a number of degenerative diseases marked by clumps of malformed protein in brain cells. Symptoms include abnormal movements, psychiatric disturbances like depression and a form of dementia. The gene responsible for the disease was discovered in 1993, leading to a better understanding of the condition and to improved predictive genetic testing, but it has yet to lead to any treatments that slow the neurodegeneration in Huntington's patients.

Professor David Rubinsztein, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge, has been studying the molecular biology underlying Huntington's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Huntington's occurs when a protein known as huntingtin builds up in the brain cells of patients, mainly in neurons in the basal ganglia and in the cerebral cortex. Normally, cells dispose of or recycle their waste material, including unwanted or mis-folded proteins, through a process known as autophagy, or "self-eating".

"We have shown that stimulating autophagy in the cells – in other words, encouraging the cells to eat the malformed huntingtin proteins – can be an effective way of preventing them from building up," says Professor Rubinsztein. "This appears to stall the onset of Huntington's-like symptoms in fruit fly and mice, and we hope it will do the same in humans."

... more about:
»Huntington' »Rapamycin »Rubinsztein

Autophagy can be induced in mouse and fly models by administering the drug rapamycin, an antibiotic used as an immunosuppressant for transplant patients. However, administered over the long term, the drug has some side effects and Rubinsztein and colleagues are aiming to find safer ways of inducing autophagy long term.

Now, Professor Rubinsztein, together with Professor Stuart Schreiber’s lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard/MIT, Boston in the US, and Dr Cahir O’Kane’s group in the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge have found a way of identifying novel "small molecules" capable of inducing autophagy. The research is published today in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

The screening process involves identifying small molecules that enhance or suppress the ability of rapamycin to slow the growth of yeast, though the selected molecules have no effects on yeast growth by themselves. Yeast is a single-celled organism and therefore less complex to study for initial screening purposes.

Three of the molecules that enhanced the growth-suppressing effects of rapamycin in yeast were also found to induce autophagy by themselves in mammalian cells independent of the action of rapamycin. These molecules enhanced the ability of the cells to dispose of mutant huntingtin in cell and fruit fly models and protect against its toxic effects.

"These compounds appear to be promising candidates for drug development," says Professor Rubinsztein. "However, even if one of the candidates does prove to be successful, it will be a number of years off becoming available as a treatment. In order for such drugs to be useful candidates in humans, we will need to be able to get them into right places in the right concentrations, and with minimal toxicity. These are some of the issues we need to look at now."

Craig Brierley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cam.ac.uk
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk

Further reports about: Huntington' Rapamycin Rubinsztein

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How circadian clocks communicate with each other
30.05.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Reptile vocalization is surprisingly flexible
30.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Reptile vocalization is surprisingly flexible

30.05.2017 | Life Sciences

EU research project DEMETER strives for innovation in enzyme production technology

30.05.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>