Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Promising approach to slow brain degeneration in a model of Huntington's disease uncovered

26.05.2014

Mechanism uncovered could also help preserve neuron function in Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury and other neurodegenerative conditions

Research presented by Dr. Lynn Raymond, from the University of British Columbia, shows that blocking a specific class of glutamate receptors, called extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, can improve motor learning and coordination, and prevent cell death in animal models of Huntington disease.

As Huntington disease is an inherited condition that can be detected decades before any clinical symptoms are seen in humans, a better understanding of the earliest changes in brain cell (neuronal) function, and the molecular pathways underlying those changes, could lead to preventive treatments that delay the onset of symptoms and neurodegeneration.

"After more than a decade of research on the pre-symptomatic phase of Huntington disease, markers are being developed to facilitate assessment of interventional therapy in individuals carrying the genetic mutation for Huntington disease, before they become ill. This will make it possible to delay onset of disease," says Dr. Raymond. These results were presented at the 2014 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the 8th annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience - Association Canadienne des Neurosciences (CAN-ACN), held in Montreal, May 25-28.

The neurotransmitter glutamate has long been known to promote cell death, and its toxic effects occur through the action of a family of receptors known as the NMDARs (N-methyl-D-Aspartate ionotropic glutamate receptors). Unfortunately, treating disorders of the nervous system by blocking NMDARs has not been successful because such treatments have numerous side effects.

A recent hypothesis based on work from many scientists suggests that NMDARs located in different regions at the surface of neurons may have opposite effects, which would explain why blocking all NMDARs is not a good treatment option. A synapse is a structure that allows one neuron to connect to another neuron and pass an electrical or chemical signal between them. Many receptors for neurotransmitters are located in synapses, as these are the main area where these chemical signals are transmitted.

However, receptors can also be found outside the synapse, and in this case are called extra-synaptic receptors. Many recent studies have revealed that NMDARs located at synapses act to increase survival signaling and promote learning and memory, whereas extra-synaptic NMDARs shut off survival signaling, interfere with learning mechanisms, and increase cell death pathways.

Dr. Raymond and her team were able, by using a drug that selectively blocks extra-synaptic NMDARs early, before the appearance of any symptoms, to delay the onset of Huntington-like symptoms in a mouse model of the disease. These promising results could lead to new treatment avenues for Huntington patients, and delay the appearance of symptoms. "The drug we used, memantine, is currently being used to treat moderate-stage Alzheimer disease patients. Our results suggest that clinical studies of memantine and similarly-acting drugs in Huntington disease, particularly in the pre-symptomatic stage, are warranted,"says Dr. Raymond.

Extra-synaptic NMDARs have also been shown to be involved in other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, and in damage caused by traumatic brain injury and some forms of stroke. These results therefore suggest novel treatment avenues for many conditions in which neurons degenerate and die, a new way to protect neurons before the appearance of symptoms of neurodegeneration.

###

This research was supported by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Huntington Society of Canada, Cure Huntington Disease Initiative, and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

About the Canadian Association for Neuroscience:

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is the largest association dedicated to the promotion of all fields of neuroscience research in Canada. The association has been organizing a yearly annual meeting since 2007. Learn more about our meeting at: http://www.can-acn.org/meeting2014

Julie Poupart | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://can-acn.org/

Further reports about: Huntington's NMDARs Neuroscience glutamate neurons symptoms treatments

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht An ounce of prevention: Research advances on 'scourge' of transplant wards
28.08.2015 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Hypoallergenic parks: Coming soon?
27.08.2015 | American Society of Agronomy

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: OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Self-healing landscape: landslides after earthquake

In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.

These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...

Im Focus: FIC Proteins Send Bacteria Into Hibernation

Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.

For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart

It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

Large agribusiness management strategies

19.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Interstellar seeds could create oases of life

28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

An ounce of prevention: Research advances on 'scourge' of transplant wards

28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine

Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes

28.08.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>