Leicester geneticists have discovered a potential defence against Huntington's disease – a fatal neurodegenerative disorder which currently has no cure.
The team of University of Leicester researchers identified that glutathione peroxidase activity – a key antioxidant in cells – protects against symptoms of the disease in model organisms.
They hope that the enzyme activity – whose protective ability was initially observed in model organisms such as yeast - can be further developed and eventually used to treat people with the genetically-inherited disease.
The disease affects around 12 people per 100,000.
Their paper, Glutathione peroxidase activity is neuroprotective in models of Huntington's disease, was published in Nature Genetics on 25 August.
A team of experts from the University's Department of Genetics carried out research for more than six years to identify new potential drug targets for the disease.
They used model systems, such as baker's yeast, fruit flies, and cultured mammalian cells to help uncover potential mechanisms underlying disease at the cellular level.
They initially screened a genome-wide collection of yeast genes and found several candidates which protected against Huntington's related symptoms in yeast. They then validated their findings in fruit flies and mammalian cells.
They found that glutathione peroxidase activity is robustly protective in these models of Huntington's disease.
Importantly, there are drug-like compounds available that mimic this activity that have already been tested in human clinical trials for other disorders – which potentially means the approach could be used to treat people with the disease.
The team now aim to further validate the observations regarding glutathione peroxidase activity, in order to understand whether this could have therapeutic relevance for Huntington's.
In addition, they have identified many additional genes that are protective - and aim to further explore these to see if there are any additional therapeutic possibilities suggested by their research.
Dr Flaviano Giorgini, Reader in Neurogenetics of the University's Department of Genetics and senior author of the paper, said: "We are taking advantage of genetic approaches in simple model organisms in order to better understand Huntington's disease, with the aim of uncovering novel ways to treat this devastating disorder.
"It appears that glutathione peroxidase activity is a robustly protective antioxidant approach which may have relevance for Huntington's disease."
Dr Robert Mason, Research Associate in the Department of Genetics, and first author of the study, said: "In addition to glutathione peroxidase, this study has identified many genes that improve Huntington's 'symptoms' in yeast. These genes provide valuable information on the underlying mechanisms leading to Huntington's, and further study will likely uncover additional approaches that could be beneficial in treating this terrible disease."
Dr Giorgini stated: "We are excited by the work because it uncovers a potential new route for therapeutics in Huntington's disease. I am also proud that all of this work has been conducted at the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester."
The study was performed in collaboration with Prof Charalambos Kyriacou, also of the Department of Genetics at Leicester. Massimiliano Casu, Nicola Butler, Dr Carlo Breda, Dr Susanna Campesan, Dr Jannine Clapp, Dr Edward Green and Devyani Dhulkhed also contributed to the research study.
The research was primarily funded by CHDI Foundation and the Huntington's Disease Association.
Dr. Flaviano Giorgini | EurekAlert!
Channels for the Supply of Energy
19.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Vine Compound Starves Cancer Cells
19.11.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Science Education
19.11.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences