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
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ 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
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
HIV Susceptibility Linked to Little-Understood Immune Cell Class
High levels of diversity among immune cells called natural killer cells may strongly predispose people to infection by HIV, and may be driven by prior viral exposures, according to a new study.
Sweet Revenge Against Superbugs
A special type of synthetic sugar could be the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
Long-sought Discovery Fills in Missing Details of Cell 'Switchboard'
A biomedical breakthrough reveals never-before-seen details of the human body’s cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
DNA Damage Seen in Patients Undergoing CT Scanning
Along with the burgeoning use of advanced medical imaging tests over the past decade have come rising public health concerns about possible links between low-dose radiation and cancer.
The Light of Fireflies for Medical Diagnostics
EPFL scientists have exploited the light of fireflies in a new method that detects biological molecules without the need for complex devices and high costs.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!