Monday, August 20, 2012

Potential Universal Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disorders

Researchers at MRC toxicology unit in the UK, lead by Giovanna R. Mallucci,MD,PhD have associated the activation of a protein called eIF2 (the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2) with the cell death and synaptic damage seen in prion neurodegeneration. Even more importantly, they blocked eIF2alpha phosphorylation and reversed the disease process !
The buildup of prion protein as it replicates induces "persistent translational repression" of general protein synthesis by eIF2alpha, which in turn was associated with synaptic failure and cell death. According to NEUROLOGY TODAY, the normally protective mechanism is over-activated with fatal prolonged failure of protein synthesis.
Researchers then used viral vectors to overexpress an enzyme specific eIF2alpha-P phosphatase called GADD34 to reduce prion protein levels, protecting brain hippocampal cells which are commonly targeted in the sick with memory disorders.
Researchers are now looking for drugs that could work on this pathway in humans to provide a unified treatment approach for these incurable diseases.
Nature 2012;E-pub 2012 May 6

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