Courtney and his team, based at the A. I. Virtanen Institute of the University of Kuopio, joined forces with Docent Eleanor Coffey’s team at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology to carry out the study as part of a series of successful collaborations between the two teams. The results of their study are published in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience.
In a number of neurodegenerative diseases, neurons in the brain are over-stimulated, which triggers programmed cell death, or apoptosis. The study shows that the Rho protein, which has long been recognised as an important player in cancer formation, also plays a key role in the destruction of neurons in disease.
“These surprising findings add an entire pathway to the map of neurodegenerative signalling processes,” says Courtney. “This area of investigation could therefore offer novel therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases”.
Targeting molecular signals
How neurons actually die has been unclear. It is likely that it is associated with a variety of different mechanisms. Research has shown that the destruction of cells be over-stimulation depends on excess entry of calcium into the cells. Researchers have long been trying to map how cells generate destruction signals in response to the calcium, in the hope of finding new targets for drug design.
The object of the study, the Rho protein, belongs to a family of proteins able to influence signals that had been linked to cell degeneration. The two teams’ analysis demonstrated that over-stimulation causes activation of Rho as well as cell destruction signals. Blocking Rho activity by genetic modification keeps the protein in an inactive state, and the nerve cells thus survive a previously toxic level of over-stimulation.
The study identifies a new factor provoking cell degeneration. It is more than likely that future research will uncover more such factors interacting with each other. Investigating these will benefit new forms of treatment and advance research that aims to alleviate symptoms. The researchers behind the study hope that the results can be used in planning new targets for drugs to reduce the cell destruction signals caused by calcium entry. Finding new targets for medicine development is also significant in terms of the economy, owing to the costly treatment of these diseases, both in Finland and globally.
Cooperation between biocentres gets research going
The teams’ study is a perfect example of the cooperation between biocentres in Finland (Biocenter Finland) and international networking. The research was funded mainly by the Academy of Finland and the European Union. The two research teams are part of a Europe-wide consortium, STRESSPROTECT, within the EU Sixth Framework Programme. The consortium aims at generating the basis for novel neuroprotective drugs for neurodegenerative conditions involving over-stimulation of neurons (www.neuroprotect.eu).
Niko Rinta | alfa
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research