Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cancer drug holds promise as first treatment for common, inherited dementia

A drug already approved for people with cancer shows early potential as a therapy for a common form of dementia, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.

"Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) holds promise as a first-generation drug for the prevention and treatment of familial frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a progressive, inherited neurodegenerative disease for which there is no treatment," said Dr. Joachim Herz, director of the Center for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the study's senior author.

"SAHA is already approved for clinical use in an unrelated condition, which should make it easier to move quickly to human trials," added Dr. Herz, professor of molecular genetics and neuroscience at UT Southwestern.

FTD – usually diagnosed around age 60 – trails only Alzheimer's disease among non-elderly dementias. The as-yet untreatable condition is marked by a progressive deterioration in decision-making ability, behavioral control and/or language skills.

In a study available online and in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, UT Southwestern researchers from the Alzheimer's Center, the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Protein Chemistry Technology Center showed that SAHA increased the cell-signalling protein progranulin (GRN) levels in a dose-dependent way in cultured mouse cells and also demonstrated that it restored near-normal GRN production in cells from human subjects with FTD.

Up to 25 percent of patients with FTD have an inherited form of the disease that is thought to be caused by one of several genetic mutations that reduce production of GRN, Dr. Herz said. Because familial FTD patients inherit one working copy of the GRN gene and one mutated one, the researchers wanted to identify a drug that would make the working copy of the gene work harder.

In an attempt to move as quickly as possible from basic science to clinical trials, the team established a method to quickly screen 1,200 drugs that already had Food and Drug Administration approval. SAHA emerged as the most active of the chemicals they screened, said lead author and graduate student Basar Cenik, who works in the laboratories of both Dr. Herz and co-senior author Dr. Gang Yu, associate professor of neuroscience.

SAHA is in a class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors, and is approved for use in a cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

"We found a drug that can overcome the chemical deficiency associated with the condition, and we showed that it worked in cells taken from humans with FTD," Dr. Yu said.

It is not yet known if the drug will efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier, a biologically protective system that keeps many chemicals from reaching the brain, Dr. Yu said. The next research step, he said, will be to screen larger chemical libraries in an effort to find other promising GRN-stimulating drugs for human trials.

Drs. Herz and Yu are both investigators for the Consortium for Frontotemporal Dementia Research and are working toward human trials with that national network, which is based at the University of California at San Francisco.

Other UT Southwestern authors are Drs. Chantelle Sephton, Wenze Niu and Daniel R. Dries, all postdoctoral researchers of neuroscience; Colleen Dewey, graduate student in neuroscience; Dr. Xunde Xian, postdoctoral researcher of molecular genetics; Dr. Shuguang Wei, senior research scientist of biochemistry; Dr. Bruce A. Posner, associate professor of biochemistry; and Kimberly Yu, summer high school intern researcher. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, the Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Disease, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the University of California, San Francisco also participated in the research.

The study received support from the National Institutes of Health, the Consortium for Frontotemporal Dementia Research, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease, the Ted Nash Long Life Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation and the American Health Assistance Foundation.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in neurosciences.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at

Deborah Wormser | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>