Washington: A new study describes an innovative strategy that reverses symptoms in the neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson, at least in fruit flies which had been genetically altered to model the diseases.
These common neurodegenerative disorders cause untold suffering to millions of patients and their families. Treatments for these diseases are limited, and no cures exist.
“The novel approach we used has significant translational implications,” said one of the lead researcher, Robert Schwarcz.
“If we can duplicate these effects in patients, we could benefit a lot of people,” he added.
Schwarcz, in collaboration with geneticist Flaviano Giorgini at the University of Leicester, focused on metabolites related to the amino acid tryptophan.
When tryptophan degrades in the body, it breaks down into several compounds that have biological activities in the nervous system. One of these, 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK), has neurotoxic properties whereas another, named kynurenic acid (KYNA), has the ability to prevent nerve cell degeneration.
The relative abundance of these two compounds in the brain may be critical in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and also Huntington’s disease.
The next steps will involve testing of the new concept in humans and to examine whether the treatment works for neurodegenerative diseases.
The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)