Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Parkinson's Breakthrough Could Slow Disease Progression

Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012
Bookmark and Share
In an early-stage breakthrough, a team of Northwestern University scientists has developed a new family of compounds that could slow the progression of Parkinson's.

Parkinson’s, the second most common neurodegenerative disease, is caused by the death of dopamine neurons, resulting in tremors, rigidity and difficulty moving. Current treatments target the symptoms but do not slow the progression of the disease.

The new compounds were developed by Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and inventor of the molecule that became the well-known drug Lyrica, and D. James Surmeier, chair of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Their research was published Oct. 23 in the journal Nature Communications.

The compounds work by slamming the door on an unwelcome and destructive guest -- calcium. The compounds target and shut a relatively rare membrane protein that allows calcium to flood into dopamine neurons. Surmeier’s previously published research showed that calcium entry through this protein stresses dopamine neurons, potentially leading to premature aging and death. He also identified the precise protein involved -- the Cav1.3 channel.

“These are the first compounds to selectively target this channel,” Surmeier said. “By shutting down the channel, we should be able to slow the progression of the disease or significantly reduce the risk that anyone would get Parkinson’s disease if they take this drug early enough.”

“We’ve developed a molecule that could be an entirely new mechanism for arresting Parkinson’s disease, rather than just treating the symptoms,“ Silverman said.

The compounds work in a similar way to the drug isradipine, for which a Phase 2 national clinical trial with Parkinson’s patients –- led by Northwestern Medicine neurologist Tanya Simuni, M.D. -- was recently completed. But because isradipine interacts with other channels found in the walls of blood vessels, it can’t be used in a high enough concentration to be highly effective for Parkinson’s disease. (Simuni is the Arthur C. Nielsen Professor of Neurology at the Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.)

The challenge for Silverman was to design new compounds that specifically target this rare Cav1.3 channel, not those that are abundant in blood vessels. He and colleagues first used high-throughput screening to test 60,000 existing compounds, but none did the trick.

“We didn’t want to give up,” Silverman said. He then tested some compounds he had developed in his lab for other neurodegenerative diseases. After Silverman identified one that had promise, Soosung Kang, a postdoctoral associate in Silverman’s lab, spent nine months refining the molecules until they were effective at shutting only the Cav1.3 channel.

In Surmeier’s lab, the drug developed by Silverman and Kang was tested by graduate student Gary Cooper in regions of a mouse brain that contained dopamine neurons. The drug did precisely what it was designed to do, without any obvious side effects.

“The drug relieved the stress on the cells,” Surmeier said.

For the next step, the Northwestern team has to improve the pharmacology of the compounds to make them suitable for human use, test them on animals and move to a Phase 1 clinical trial.

“We have a long way to go before we are ready to give this drug, or a reasonable facsimile, to humans, but we are very encouraged,” Surmeier said.

The research was supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the RJG Foundation.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,900+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Automated Patch Clamping Trends
Learn more about current practices, preferences and metrics in ion channel drug screening using APC technology.
Mechanisms of Calcium Blockers
Researchers describe how the fundamental mode of action of two distinct chemical classes of calcium channel blockers differs.
Breakthrough in GPCR Understanding
Integral Molecular announces breakthrough in understanding the functionality of GPCRs, the largest class of drug targets in human disease.
Enzyme that Triggers Cell Demise in ALS Identified
Scientists from Harvard have identified a key instigator of nerve cell damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Fly Study into Therapies for HVP-Induced Cancer
Fruit flies may help scientists understand the mechanism by which HPV can cause cancer as well as identify potential drug treatments.
World's Most In-Depth Study to Detect Alzheimer's Disease
A multisite team will see the most thorough and vigorous testing for Alzheimer's ever performed on volunteers.
'Missing Evolutionary Link' of Natural Drug Source Found
Scripps Florida study finds 'missing evolutionary link' of a widely used natural drug source
Grad Student's Finding Enables Rapid Compound Screening
Grad student makes technical leap that could enable rapid screening of anti-cancer compounds.
Uncovering Constructor Proteins
Scientists have discovered a new bacterial cell wall builder that could be a target for antibiotic development.
Cholesterol Linked to Aggressive Cancers
Research suggests fats, such as cholesterol, can increase aggressive cancer progression.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,900+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!