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Protein discovery could prevent degenerative neurological diseases

Protein discovery could prevent degenerative neurological diseases
3rd November 2011

A protein discovery may prevent the kind of brain damage that occurs during stroke, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cerebral palsy, according to new research.

In an animal study at Washington University, scientists discovered that high levels of the protective protein, Nmnat1, substantially reduce damage that develops when the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood flow.

Dr M. Holtzman, senior author of the study, stated: "Under normal circumstances, the brain can handle a temporary disruption of either oxygen or blood flow ... but when they occur together and for long enough, long-term disability and death can result."

According to Dr Holtzman, if drugs can be used to trigger the same protective pathway as Nmnat1 doctors may be able to prevent brain damage occurring under these conditions and in neurodegenerative diseases.

Nmnat1 is already believed to slow degenerative disorders by delaying the deteriorations of ailing nerve cell branches.

Washington University researchers discovered that Nmnat1 may be able to pre-empt cell death by treating degeneration and loss of axons.

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