Discovery of new drug raises hope for Parkinson?s patients

Discovery of new drug raises hope for Parkinson?s patients

Human Brain 1801Washington (ISJ) - People suffering from Parkinson's disease need not feel depressed any more.

Scientists in the United States have claimed major success in the fight against Parkinson's disease by developing a drug which can stop destruction of brain cells.

Scientists from Florida-based The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) said the results have shown the latest drug discovery can target biological pathways which cause destruction of brain cells leading to Parkinson?s disease.

They are hopeful a highly effective drug can be developed that can protect the function of mitochondria, which provides the cell with energy, ultimately preventing brain cell death.

The studies claim, the new find acts on what are known as JNK (pronounced "junk") kinases, enzymes with unique biological function. There are three types of enzymes, namely JNK1, JNK2 and JNK3. JNK is linked to many of the hallmark components of Parkinson's disease, such as oxidative stress and programmed cell death.

"These are the first isoform selective JNK 2/3 inhibitors that can penetrate the brain and the first shown to be active in functional cell-based tests that measure mitochondrial dysfunction," said Philip LoGrasso, a TSRI professor who led the studies.

"In terms of their potential use as therapeutics, they've been optimized in every way but one?their oral bioavailability. That's what we're working on now," he added.

The new studies raise the hope that such a therapy could prevent the gradual degeneration of brain cells in Parkinson's disease.

"Some of these compounds had a level of selectivity that ranged as high as 20,000-fold against competing targets and were extremely effective against oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction?both potent cell killers," added HaJeung Park, director of Scripps Florida's X-ray Crystallography Core Facility.

The scientists found, within JNK3, a single amino acid?L144?was primarily responsible for the high level of JNK3 selectivity. Isoform selectivity can help to limit potential side effects of a drug.

Scientists said the latest discovery can also help in treating patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease as JNK3 has been found to play active role in both brain cell deaths in Parkinson's as well as Alzheimer's diseases.

Parkinson?s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The most obvious symptoms include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Parkinson's disease is more common in older people, with most cases occurring after the age of 50.

Source: TSRI, Florida


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