Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Cleaner: New Method Holds Promise For Treating Brain Injuries

Date:
January 18, 2007
Source:
Weizmann Institute of Science
Summary:
Brain injury causes glutamate, a substance necessary for proper brain function, to flood areas surrounding the trauma and kill other cells. Weizmann Institute scientists have developed a new way to rid the brain of excess glutamate. This method -- which uses an enzyme found in blood -- could lead to new therapies not only for brain injury, but also for stroke and other conditions, and holds promise for prevention of damage from meningitis or nerve gas.

An injury to the brain can be devastating. When brain cells die, whether from head trauma, stroke or disease, a substance called glutamate floods the surrounding areas, overloading the cells in its path and setting off a chain reaction that damages whole swathes of tissue. Glutamate is always present in the brain, where it carries nerve impulses across the gaps between cells. But when this chemical is released by damaged or dying brain cells, the result is a flood that overexcites nearby cells and kills them.

A new method for ridding the brain of excess glutamate has been developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science. This method takes a completely new approach to the problem, compared with previous attempts based on drugs that must enter the brain to prevent the deleterious action of glutamate. Many drugs, however, can't cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain, while other promising treatments have proved ineffective in clinical trials. Prof. Vivian Teichberg, of the Institute's Neurobiology Department, working together with Prof. Yoram Shapira and Dr. Alexander Zlotnik of the Soroka Medical Center and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, has shown that in rats, an enzyme in the blood can be activated to "mop up" toxic glutamate spills in the brain and prevent much of the damage. This method may soon be entering clinical trials to see if it can do the same for humans.

Though the brain has its own means of recycling glutamate, injury causes the system to malfunction, leading to glutamate build up. Prof. Teichberg reasoned that this problem could be circumvented by passing glutamate from the fluid surrounding brain cells into the bloodstream. But first, he had to have a clear understanding of the mechanism for moving glutamate from the brain to the blood. Glutamate concentrations are several times higher in the blood than in the brain, and the body must be able to pump the chemical "upstream." Glutamate pumps, called transporters, are found on the outsides of blood vessels, on cells that come into contact with the brain. These collect glutamate, creating small zones of high concentration from which the glutamate can then be released into the bloodstream.

Basic chemistry told him that he could affect the transporter activity by tweaking glutamate levels in the blood. When blood levels are low, the greater difference in concentrations causes the brain to release more glutamate into the bloodstream. He uses an enzyme called GOT that is normally present in blood to bind glutamate chemically and inactivate it, effectively lowering levels in the blood and kicking transporter activity into high gear. In their experiments, Teichberg and his colleagues used this method to scavenge blood glutamate in rats with simulated traumatic brain injury. They found that glutamate cleared out of the animals' brains effectively, and damage was prevented.

Yeda, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute, now holds a patent for this method, and a new company based on this patent, called "Braintact Ltd.," has been set up in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel and is currently operating within the framework of Meytav Technological Incubator. The US FDA has assured the company of a fast track to approval. If all goes well, Phase I clinical trials are planned for the near future.

The method could potentially be used to treat such acute brain insults as head traumas and stroke, and prevent brain and nerve damage from bacterial meningitis or nerve gas. It may also have an impact on chronic diseases such as glaucoma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or HIV dementia. Teichberg: "Our method may work where others have failed, because rather than temporarily blocking the glutamate's toxic action with drugs inside the brain, it clears the chemical away from the brain into the blood, where it can't do harm anymore."

Prof. Vivian I. Teichberg's research is supported by the M.D. Moross Institute for Cancer Research; the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurosciences; the Carl and Micaela Einhorn-Dominic Brain Research Institute; the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research -- Weizmann Institute of Science Exchange Program; the Ruth and Samuel Rosenwasser Charitable Fund; the estate of Dr. Frank Goldstein, Chevy Chase, MD; Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Green, Boca Raton, FL; and the estate of Anne Kinston, UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weizmann Institute of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute of Science. "Brain Cleaner: New Method Holds Promise For Treating Brain Injuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070117134104.htm>.
Weizmann Institute of Science. (2007, January 18). Brain Cleaner: New Method Holds Promise For Treating Brain Injuries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070117134104.htm
Weizmann Institute of Science. "Brain Cleaner: New Method Holds Promise For Treating Brain Injuries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070117134104.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins