This substance tricks brain to ease Parkinson’s

April 21st, 2011 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 21 (IANS) A painstaking search through nearly 390,000 chemical compounds has isolated a substance that can sneak through the brain’s protective barrier and trick it into easing Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

Aleksey G. Kazantsev, associate professor in neurology at the Harvard Medical School, and colleagues previously discovered that blocking cholesterol formation in the brain could insure against damage caused by disorders like Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s, a neuro-degenerative disease, results from the death of dopamine-containing cells in a region of the midbrain. Early symptoms include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait.

Several other studies have suggested that too much cholesterol may kill brain cells in similar diseases. Kazantsev isolated the substance that blocks formation of cholesterol in the brain, reports the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

So they launched a search for a so-called “small molecules” — substances ideal for developing into medicines — capable of blocking cholesterol formation, according to a statement of the American Chemical Society.

It is a small molecule that blocks the activity of a key protein involved in cholesterol production. It successfully lowers cholesterol levels in isolated nerve cells and brain slices from mice.

If the molecule proves to be a good target for developing new drugs, the scientists note, “it could have a broader application in other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, for which modulation of cholesterol and other associated metabolic pathways might be of therapeutic benefit”.

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