Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery of mechanism in brain cell injury in Huntington's offers new treatment approaches

Date:
February 1, 2010
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Scientists have uncovered a key cellular mechanism that alters brain cell function in Huntington's disease, and identified a possible treatment for the disease.

Scientists at the Brain Research Centre and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics have uncovered a key cellular mechanism that alters brain cell function in Huntington's disease, and identified a possible treatment for the disease.

The results of the study were recently published online and will appear in the January 28 edition of the journal Neuron.

Huntington's disease is an inherited degenerative brain disease that causes cognitive and motor impairment, and eventually death. One in 10,000 Canadians suffers from Huntington's disease.

The researchers found that, in mouse models, the genetic mutation that causes Huntington's disease results in an excessive number of NMDA receptors -- special receptors found at the surface of brain cells -- to accumulate and be active outside synapses, which are the connections between brain cells. In healthy conditions, there should be few NMDA receptors outside the synapse.

The researchers also found that the over-activation of the NMDA receptors outside the synapse leads to a reduction in brain cell survival signals and disruption in brain function.

"Previous work in cell cultures showed that NMDA receptors located within the synapse can have beneficial effects on brain cells, whereas NMDA receptors outside the synapse, called 'extra-synaptic NMDA receptors,' have a detrimental effect," says Dr. Lynn Raymond, a professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry, a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC Hospital, and co-director of the Huntington's Disease Medical Clinic.

"Our study shows an increase in the number of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, shifting the balance between these opposing cellular mechanisms in animal models of early stages of Huntington's disease," Raymond says.

While further work still needs to be done to determine how the genetic mutation causes the excessive number and activity of NMDA receptors to localize outside the synapses, the researchers did find a way to mitigate damage and slow disease progression at early stages of the disease -- using Memantine, a drug currently used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

"Memantine in low dose works by preferentially blocking the activity of NMDA receptors outside the synapse," says Dr. Michael Hayden, director of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, professor in the UBC Department of Medical Genetics, and co-author on the study.

"It was previously shown to reverse deficits and damage in late stages of animal models of Huntington's disease, but we found it could improve learning and cell survival signaling even at early stages of the disease," says Hayden. "A small human clinical trial of Memantine for Huntington's disease has also recently shown positive effects. Larger, international clinical trials are now being planned."

"Memantine's beneficial effects appear to be dose-specific," Raymond adds. "Before it can be prescribed to treat Huntington's disease, we need to know how to determine appropriate dosing and whether it interferes with other essential cellular and brain functions."

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Cure Huntington Disease Initiative, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Heart & Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, Huntington's Disease Society of America, and the Huntington Society of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Discovery of mechanism in brain cell injury in Huntington's offers new treatment approaches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134249.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2010, February 1). Discovery of mechanism in brain cell injury in Huntington's offers new treatment approaches. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134249.htm
University of British Columbia. "Discovery of mechanism in brain cell injury in Huntington's offers new treatment approaches." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134249.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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