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US and Chinese researchers target potential neurodegenerative drug

US and Chinese researchers target potential neurodegenerative drug
18th May 2015

Researchers from China and the USA have announced that they have possibly identified a new drug to target neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's.

Published in journal Science Signalling, the study found that misfolded synuclein, the protein that builds up in the brain and kills brain cells, can activate toll-like receptors (TLR) 1 and 2 in immune cells to trigger inflammation. These receptors are supposed to protect us from invading pathogens, but the misfolded protein can make them overreact, forcing chronic inflammation and the destruction of brain cells.

Teams from Tsinghua University and Georgetown University looked at the activity of microglia, cells that are the main form of immune defence in the central nervous system, and found that a new compound called CU-CPT22 could target the receptors and reduce the inflammation. Furthermore, a hypertension drug that usually blocks TLR 2 had a similar effect, meaning that it could possibly be reused to treat Parkinson's disease.

Study author Yin Hang said: "The small molecule blocks the receptors and fine-tunes the system, balancing out the overprotective microglia and keeping inflammation at bay."

Scientists will now have to carry out further tests to gain better understanding of how this new drug may be able to target the receptors closer and whether it could be rolled out as a potential drug for sufferers.

The University of Colorado holds the intellectual property rights to CU-CPT22, which was recently licensed by the CU Technology Transfer Office to Brickell Biotech of Miami, Florida. The research was supported by a Parkinson’s Movement Disorder Foundation grant, as well as funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Care to raise money for Parkinson's? Walkers and hikers are being encouraged to get involved in a walk across the Peak District that will raise funds for charity Parkinson's UK. Taking place on Saturday June 6th from 10am, the walk will begin at Bakewell Showground and will then diverge into two routes: a ten-mile and a 3.5-mile walk.

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