Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A pathway towards cures for Parkinson’s and cancer

06.11.2002


Researchers studying the Hedgehog signaling pathway have identified small molecules that could form the foundations of exciting new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers.



New research published in Journal of Biology - the open access journal for exceptional research - has identified small molecules that are able to stimulate or block the Hedgehog signalling pathway, which is essential to the development, maintenance and repair of cells in the human body. The potential of these molecules to be used as drugs to treat both degenerative diseases and cancer is exciting as their small size may allow these molecules to enter all parts of the body and cross the blood brain barrier, eliminating the need for injections of therapeutics directly into the target site.

The Hedgehog signaling pathway is crucial to the development of healthy animals as well as the maintenance and repair of adult cells. Hedgehog genes were first identified in the fruitfly, and were so called because fly embryos with a defect in this gene were covered in bristles. The central role of the Hedgehog signalling pathway in the regulation of the growth and division of specific types of cells makes it of great interest to researchers investigating diseases like Parkinson’s that are characterised by a lack of particular cells as the central nervous system degenerates. Finding drugs that can stimulate the Hedgehog signaling pathway and lead to the production of new cells could potentially cure this disease. It is also hoped that by developing drugs that block the Hedgehog signalling pathway researchers will be able to induce the regression of tumours in patients with certain cancers that depend on this pathway (specifically, basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma).


Recent research has shown the Hedgehog protein can itself reduce the behavioural impairments and neuronal loss that occur in animal models of the Parkinson’s disease suggesting that manipulating this pathway may well deliver new treatment. One major drawback of using the Hedgehog protein to manipulate the signaling pathway is that, because of it large size, it has to be administered by direct injection into the brain.

In the Journal of Biology article, a team of researchers led by Jeffrey A Porter of the biotechnology company, Curis Inc, of Cambridge Massachusetts, and including colleagues from Columbia University in New York, report their screen of around 140,000 synthetic molecules for the ability to stimulate or inhibit the Hedgehog signalling pathway. One of the molecules was studied further by creating around 300 chemical derivatives. Using this method the researchers were able to identify a range of active molecules that could have exciting therapeutic benefits.

Porter and colleagues then went on to characterise the small synthetic molecules to find out how they worked in living organisms, hopeful that this would give them further understanding of the Hedgehog signalling pathway. They found their small molecules were interacting with a poorly understood protein that is found on the surface of developing cells. This protein, called Smoothened, helps cells respond to the Hedgehog protein.

The interaction of the Smoothened protein with the synthetic small molecules suggests that the Hedgehog signalling pathway may involve similar small molecules to those synthesised in this study.

The authors conclude, "As a drug a Hedgehog agonist [one of the new molecules they have identified] would represent an attractive alternative to an expensive Hedgehog protein therapeutic."


###
This article will be published online and made available free of charge on Wednesday November 6, in line with the publisher’s policy of providing immediate open access to original research: http://jbiol.com/1/2/10

The second issue of Journal of Biology will also include minireview and research news articles that will also be made freely available from http://jbiol.com, and which will be added to the press site ahead of publication.

Journal of Biology (http://jbiol.com) is a new international journal, published by BioMed Central, which provides immediate open access to research articles of exceptional interest. It will only publish research articles of the highest standard, similar to those published by Nature, Science or Cell. While these journals restrict access to only those who pay for a subscription, all research articles published in Journal of Biology will be permanently available free of charge and without restrictions, ensuring the widest possible dissemination of the work.

Contact details:

Journal of Biology
Editor Dr Theodora Bloom
E-mail editorial@jbiol.com
Telephone 44-207-323-0323
Facsimile 44-207-631-9961

Author Dr Jeffery A Porter, Curis, Inc.,
E-mail: jporter@curis.com
Telephone 617-503-6568
Facsimile 617-503-6501


Journal of Biology
Editor in Chief: Martin Raff
Publisher: BioMed Central
Format: online and print

Gordon Fletcher | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://jbiol.com
http://jbiol.com/press/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California

24.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp

24.02.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>