Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Encourage Cells To Make A Meal Of Huntington's Disease

Date:
May 8, 2007
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
Scientists have developed a novel strategy for tackling neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease: encouraging an individual's own cells to "eat" the malformed proteins that lead to the disease.

Scientists have developed a novel strategy for tackling neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease: encouraging an individual's own cells to "eat" the malformed proteins that lead to the disease.

Huntington's disease is one of a number of degenerative diseases marked by clumps of malformed protein in brain cells. Symptoms include abnormal movements, psychiatric disturbances like depression and a form of dementia. The gene responsible for the disease was discovered in 1993, leading to a better understanding of the condition and to improved predictive genetic testing, but it has yet to lead to any treatments that slow the neurodegeneration in Huntington's patients.

Professor David Rubinsztein, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge, has been studying the molecular biology underlying Huntington's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Huntington's occurs when a protein known as huntingtin builds up in the brain cells of patients, mainly in neurons in the basal ganglia and in the cerebral cortex. Normally, cells dispose of or recycle their waste material, including unwanted or mis-folded proteins, through a process known as autophagy, or "self-eating".

"We have shown that stimulating autophagy in the cells -- in other words, encouraging the cells to eat the malformed huntingtin proteins -- can be an effective way of preventing them from building up," says Professor Rubinsztein. "This appears to stall the onset of Huntington's-like symptoms in fruit fly and mice, and we hope it will do the same in humans."

Autophagy can be induced in mouse and fly models by administering the drug rapamycin, an antibiotic used as an immunosuppressant for transplant patients. However, administered over the long term, the drug has some side effects and Rubinsztein and colleagues are aiming to find safer ways of inducing autophagy long term.

Now, Professor Rubinsztein, together with Professor Stuart Schreiber's lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard/MIT, Boston in the US, and Dr Cahir O'Kane's group in the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge have found a way of identifying novel "small molecules" capable of inducing autophagy. The research is published today in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

The screening process involves identifying small molecules that enhance or suppress the ability of rapamycin to slow the growth of yeast, though the selected molecules have no effects on yeast growth by themselves. Yeast is a single-celled organism and therefore less complex to study for initial screening purposes.

Three of the molecules that enhanced the growth-suppressing effects of rapamycin in yeast were also found to induce autophagy by themselves in mammalian cells independent of the action of rapamycin. These molecules enhanced the ability of the cells to dispose of mutant huntingtin in cell and fruit fly models and protect against its toxic effects.

"These compounds appear to be promising candidates for drug development," says Professor Rubinsztein. "However, even if one of the candidates does prove to be successful, it will be a number of years off becoming available as a treatment. In order for such drugs to be useful candidates in humans, we will need to be able to get them into right places in the right concentrations, and with minimal toxicity. These are some of the issues we need to look at now."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Scientists Encourage Cells To Make A Meal Of Huntington's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507133039.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2007, May 8). Scientists Encourage Cells To Make A Meal Of Huntington's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507133039.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Scientists Encourage Cells To Make A Meal Of Huntington's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507133039.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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