Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers hot on the trail of brain cell degeneration

20.03.2007
A research team headed by Academy Research Fellow Michael Courtney has identified a new molecular pathway in neurons. The pathway is a factor in the degeneration of brain cells, which in turn plays an important role in neurological conditions and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and stroke.

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
Further information:
http://www.neuroprotect.eu
http://www.uku.fi/aivi/neuro/index_signalling.shtml
http://www.aka.fi

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

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:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

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...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>