Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Promising approach to slow brain degeneration in Huntington's disease uncovered

Date:
May 25, 2014
Source:
Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Summary:
Blocking a specific class of glutamate receptors can improve motor learning and coordination, and prevent cell death in animal models of Huntington's disease, research shows. As Huntington's disease is an inherited condition that can be detected decades before any clinical symptoms are seen in humans, this research could lead to preventive treatments that will delay the onset of symptoms and neurodegeneration.

Research presented by Dr. Lynn Raymond, from the University of British Columbia, shows that blocking a specific class of glutamate receptors, called extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, can improve motor learning and coordination, and prevent cell death in animal models of Huntington disease. As Huntington disease is an inherited condition that can be detected decades before any clinical symptoms are seen in humans, a better understanding of the earliest changes in brain cell (neuronal) function, and the molecular pathways underlying those changes, could lead to preventive treatments that delay the onset of symptoms and neurodegeneration.

Related Articles


"After more than a decade of research on the pre-symptomatic phase of Huntington disease, markers are being developed to facilitate assessment of interventional therapy in individuals carrying the genetic mutation for Huntington disease, before they become ill. This will make it possible to delay onset of disease," says Dr. Raymond. These results were presented at the 2014 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the 8th annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience -- Association Canadienne des Neurosciences (CAN-ACN), held in Montreal, May 25-28.

The neurotransmitter glutamate has long been known to promote cell death, and its toxic effects occur through the action of a family of receptors known as the NMDARs (N-methyl-D-Aspartate ionotropic glutamate receptors). Unfortunately, treating disorders of the nervous system by blocking NMDARs has not been successful because such treatments have numerous side effects. A recent hypothesis based on work from many scientists suggests that NMDARs located in different regions at the surface of neurons may have opposite effects, which would explain why blocking all NMDARs is not a good treatment option. A synapse is a structure that allows one neuron to connect to another neuron and pass an electrical or chemical signal between them. Many receptors for neurotransmitters are located in synapses, as these are the main area where these chemical signals are transmitted. However, receptors can also be found outside the synapse, and in this case are called extra-synaptic receptors. Many recent studies have revealed that NMDARs located at synapses act to increase survival signaling and promote learning and memory, whereas extra-synaptic NMDARs shut off survival signaling, interfere with learning mechanisms, and increase cell death pathways.

Dr. Raymond and her team were able, by using a drug that selectively blocks extra-synaptic NMDARs early, before the appearance of any symptoms, to delay the onset of Huntington-like symptoms in a mouse model of the disease. These promising results could lead to new treatment avenues for Huntington patients, and delay the appearance of symptoms. "The drug we used, memantine, is currently being used to treat moderate-stage Alzheimer disease patients. Our results suggest that clinical studies of memantine and similarly-acting drugs in Huntington disease, particularly in the pre-symptomatic stage, are warranted,"says Dr. Raymond.

Extra-synaptic NMDARs have also been shown to be involved in other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, and in damage caused by traumatic brain injury and some forms of stroke. These results therefore suggest novel treatment avenues for many conditions in which neurons degenerate and die, a new way to protect neurons before the appearance of symptoms of neurodegeneration.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Promising approach to slow brain degeneration in Huntington's disease uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140525204424.htm>.
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. (2014, May 25). Promising approach to slow brain degeneration in Huntington's disease uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140525204424.htm
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Promising approach to slow brain degeneration in Huntington's disease uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140525204424.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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