Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases

11.05.2007
The focus of work in the Neurosciences Department’s Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of the Basque Country’s Faculty of Medicine and Odontology is the investigation of the molecular and cellular bases of neurodegenerative illnesses – those that affect the brain and the spinal cord. Some of these neurodegenerative illnesses are well known and affect a significant part of the population, such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) are studying the signals in the central nervous system - the brain and the spinal cord - that do not function well, in particular, those signals that cause the death of nerve cells. There are basically two types of cells in the central nervous system: neurones and the glial cells. Both types are sensitive to these functioning errors and both can die. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, it is the neurones, above all, that die. However, in the case of multiple sclerosis, it is a class of glial cells – known as oligodendrocytes – that perish.

From in vitro cells to biological samples of human origin

The researchers at the Neurobiology Laboratory are investigating cells in cultures - neurones, oligodendrocytes or other cells of the nervous system -, and are trying to reproduce in vitro circumstances that are thought to be relevant in these ailments. That is to say, they are creating the conditions that cause the death of these cells, in order to determine what molecules intervene in the process – from the moment of the lethal signal to the point where the cells collapse. In this type of experimental work a series of molecules involved in the death process are identified, the aim being to come up with pharmaceutical medicines that will improve treatment.

Apart from working with in vitro cells, they are also experimenting with animals that reproduce some of the elements involved in neurodegenerative illnesses under certain conditions, i.e. sensory symptoms, motor symptoms, etc. and that can be induced in these animals. And they are examining if these substances that have proved to be interesting with the in vitro cells are also efficacious in these experimental models of the diseases.

Moreover, over the past few years they have had the opportunity to study samples of brains of patients who have died of some neurodegenerative illness, such as, for example, multiple sclerosis. The illnesses leaves a mark in these samples and, although the brain has been at a terminal stage of the illness, they can investigate to see if there are signs of alterations to the molecules similar to those observed in the experiments, both with cells and with the animals. In this way it can be determined if the molecular targets discovered experimentally are relevant or not to the neurodegenerative processes and, if they are, develop pharmaceutical medicines that can neutralise these processes or the elements that enable them to progress, the goal being to halt the process of death.

In collaboration with neurologists they have also been able to access biological samples of patients who have given their consent and donated them to research. Biological samples such as, fundamentally, blood, given that changes in blood plasma that may indicate alterations at the brain level can be identified.

In search of biological samples

All this is a dynamic process that enables clues to be found and which are, in some cases, relevant for developing pharmaceutical drugs that can halt, or at least slow down, the course of a neurodegenerative illness. Apart from finding these molecules or targets that interact with pharmaceutical medicines, in order to stop the process of progressive deterioration, substances that favour the survival of the neurones and oligodendrocytes are also sought; substances such as, for example, antioxidants, given that, in many of the neurodegenerative illnesses the cells die because oxidative stress is produced. In recent years the Neurobiology Laboratory researchers have found a number of antioxidants that put a brake on the dying process and can act as a neuroprotector. Antioxidants of natural origin that are in our diet – fruit, vegetables, and so on – and which, in some way appear to alleviate the damage cause by these illnesses.

In short, the goal is to gain more knowledge about the molecular bases of these pathologies, define therapeutic targets (molecules of the cell that recognise a pharmaceutical drug and thus respond to it) and, in the last analysis, to come up with pharmaceutical medicines that improve treatment.

Irati Kortabitarte | alfa
Further information:
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Gelaxka=1_1&Berri_Kod=1314&hizk=I

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

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: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>