Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

HMRI Researcher Lights a Path to Understanding Brain Diseases

03.02.2006


Neurologist Mike Harrington of Pasadena, California’s Huntington Medical Research Institutes argues that soon we may be able to detect brain disease before symptoms even begin. The secret is in the cerebrospinal fluid, the clear liquid that cushions our brain and spinal cord.



As guest editor for the January 2006 issue of the respected medical journal Disease Markers (Volume 22, Issues 1-2), published by IOS Press, which was themed to the study of neural markers, Harrington edited the issue and co-authored three of the articles himself. He worked with HMRI biochemist Alfred Fonteh and several other scientists.

"Changes in lipids (e.g. cholesterol) and proteins in our cerebrospinal fluid may be linked to various brain conditions," Harrington says. "Conditions could include any change in normal brain, such as in development, or in diseases such as migraine, Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, multiple sclerosis and some forms of stroke.


A marker is a molecule in the body that’s involved in a disease, for example in the metabolism of a cancer cell. The marker points to a disease like a glove dropped by a cat burglar.

"We suspect that a problem in processing cholesterol in the brain may be at the root of Alzheimer’s disease," Harrington adds. (A surprise to most people, the brain contains 25 percent of the body’s cholesterol.) Studying the cholesterol in the brain may help provide an earlier diagnosis.

Harrington is known for his discovery of a marker for mad cow disease which advanced the worldwide study of the brain-wasting condition. His current research into migraine markers at HMRI is entering its fourth year of funding from the National Institutes of Health in Washington.

Harrington’s first article in the journal was a review of 131 articles written by scientists who have studied disease markers in spinal fluid. In the past 27 years, there’s been a 50-fold increase in the number of proteins identified in the cerebrospinal fluid – now a total of about 700. However, Harrington says, "The task ahead is enormous. There may be hundreds of thousands of molecules or their fragments that could serve as disease markers if we knew what they were and what they do in the spinal fluid."

To get where they need to be in their knowledge of proteins, Harrington calls on clinicians who see patients and researchers who mostly study animals to share their knowledge.

"Currently there’s a disagreement between the two groups over what constitutes a breach of the blood-brain barrier," Harrington says. "Clinicians believe that the barrier is compromised when a few stray molecules are present. Research physiologists have shown for 15 years that’s incorrect."

"We see a mismatch between the two disciplines," Harrington says. "Their separate stores of data, if combined, could provide significant insights into a variety of brain disorders."

Harrington’s second journal article discussed myriad ways to identify molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Lipidomics is the study of interacting groups of lipids or greasy molecules that comprise cell walls and brain structure. Proteomics studies groups of proteins. According to Harrington, "Both will enhance existing knowledge of brain disease."

The third article edited by Harrington discussed just one of the 700 known protein molecules, known as PGDS (prostaglandin D synthase). PGDS can adopt many forms and even break into pieces, any one of which could become a disease marker. In one study of 98 people with brain disorders, PGDS molecules showed wide variations in their shape and concentrations. Exactly why the changes occurred is not yet known.

Harrington stresses that study of disease markers requires not just powerful tools to detect the protein molecules in the CSF fluid. "It’s also important to understand the way the CSF works," he noted.

"The CSF is essentially a circulation system that, among several functions, helps take waste matter away from the brain," Harrington says. "It is refreshed up to five times a day, changing constantly. If cancer cells are growing in the brain, or other bad things are going on with the cell components, these could be markers that would be present in the CSF. Their position, even the time of day they are collected, could vary their meaning."

"There’s a lot to be learned correlating brain disease with molecular changes in CSF. These journal articles are about the state of the art in the search for disease markers."

"It should not be beyond our ability to recognize pre-symptom Alzheimer’s disease," Harrington says. "You’re losing brain tissue. We should be able to see this."

Chuck Champlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.iospress.nl

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>