In a new study NYU School of Medicine researchers report that they have found several chemical compounds, including an antidepressant, that have powerful effects against brain-destroying prion infections in mice, opening the door to potential treatments for human prion diseases.
The researchers, led by Thomas Wisniewski, MD, professor of neurology, pathology and psychiatry, report their findings in today's online edition of PLoS One. Prion diseases are a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans and animals. An unusual infectious agent, a prion—a misshapen version of a normal cellular protein—causes the fatal disorders. There are no treatments.
The researchers found that trimipramine, an antidepressant, and fluphenazine, an antipsychotic, have activity against prions. Since the drugs are already in clinical use, Dr. Wisniewski believes that doctors can test them in human patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the most common human prion disease.
Dr. Wisniewski and his colleagues previously found 68 chemical compounds, known as styryl-based compounds, bound tightly to amyloid-beta protein deposits in the brains of people who died of Alzheimer's disease. Since the disease-causing aggregates of amyloid-beta and prion proteins are widely believed to have similar structures, his team screened these 68 styryl-based compounds for their ability to inhibit prion infection in a standard cell culture. They found two that seemed both effective and non-toxic, and confirmed their effectiveness by showing that on average they markedly delayed the onset of symptoms in prion-injected lab mice. The styryl-based compounds also reduced the signs of disease in the mouse brains.
Dr. Wisniewski's team found similar results the antidepressant trimipramine and the anti-schizophrenia drug fluphenazine. Both are chemically related to the anti-protozoal drug quinacrine, which is known to slow prion infection in cell cultures, although it fails to protect prion-infected mice or humans. Their chemical differences from quinacrine apparently enable the two drugs to bind more tightly to toxic prion aggregates, and–like the styryl-based compounds–prevent these aggregates from assembling new copies of themselves.
"One of the trimipramine-treated mice stayed healthy throughout the 400-day study," Dr. Wisniewski says.
The National Institutes of Health funds Dr. Wisniewski's laboratory's work to develop potential prion-disease vaccines. Prion diseases in animals have been known to jump to the human population. A prion disease known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease") swept through cattle in Britain in the 1980s, infected humans via beef products, and killed more than 200 people worldwide.
Currently a prion disease known as chronic wasting disease (CWD) is spreading through the deer and elk population of North America. Humans are increasingly exposed to CWD, for example by eating venison, and although CWD so far doesn't seem transmissible to humans, it has been shown to infect other primates. Dr. Wisniewski and colleagues are testing an oral vaccine for CWD in deer and elk in Colorado.
About NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated, academic medical center, is one on the nation's premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of three hospitals – Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the world's first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine; and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the nation dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology – plus the NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. The medical center's tri-fold mission to serve, teach and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education and research. For more information, go to www.NYULMC.org.
Christopher Rucas | EurekAlert!
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb
19.05.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
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...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
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...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
16.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2017 | Life Sciences
22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy