A drug that acts like a growth-promoting protein in the brain reduces degeneration and motor deficits associated with Huntington's disease in two mouse models of the disorder, according to a study appearing November 27 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that protecting or boosting neurotrophins — the molecules that support the survival and function of nerve cells — may slow the progression of Huntington's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Huntington's disease is a brain disorder characterized by the emergence of decreased motor, cognitive, and psychiatric abilities, most commonly appearing in the mid-30s and 40s. The disease is caused by a genetic mutation that leads to abnormal clumps of protein in the brain, eventually resulting in the atrophy and death of nerve cells. While there are drugs to alleviate some symptoms of the disease, there are currently no therapies to delay the onset or slow its progression.
Previous studies of people with Huntington's disease point to a link between low levels of a neurotrophin called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and symptoms of the disorder. In the current study, Frank Longo, MD, PhD, and others at Stanford University, tested LM22A-4, a drug that specifically binds to and activates the BDNF receptor TrkB on nerve cells, in mice that model the disorder.
They found LM22A-4 reduces abnormal protein accumulation, delays nerve cell degeneration, and improves motor skills in the animals. The findings support other recent rodent studies that showed drugs that enhance the action of BDNF can reduce brain changes and symptoms of Huntington's disease.
"These results strongly suggest that drugs that act, in part, like BDNF could be effective therapeutics for treating Huntington's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions," Longo said.
How quickly the symptoms of Huntington's disease progress in people vary greatly. Longo's group examined the effects of LM22A-4 treatment in mice that were predisposed to develop symptoms of Huntington's disease rapidly (within weeks) or gradually (within months). LM22A-4 treatment reduced the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the striatum and cortex — brain regions affected in Huntington's disease. Motor behaviors (downward climbing and grip strength) also improved in the mice that received LM22A-4 treatments daily.
"The search for treatments that slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases has gradually shifted from ameliorating symptoms to finding agents that reduce the progression of the disease," said Gary Lynch, PhD, who studies neurodegeneration at the University of California, Irvine, and was not involved with this study. "Given that this drug is clinically plausible, these results open up exciting possibilities for treating a devastating neurodegenerative disease," he added.
This research was funded by Taube Philanthropies, Koret Foundation, Jean Perkins Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Veterans Administration.
The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of nearly 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. Longo can be reached at email@example.com. More information on Huntington's disease and neurotrophins can be found on BrainFacts.org.
Kathleen Snodgrass | EurekAlert!
Speed data for the brain’s navigation system
06.12.2016 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering