Saturday, February 14, 2015

'Mad Cow' might help in fighting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases

'Mad Cow' might help in fighting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Florida have for the first time discovered a killing mechanism that could underpin a range of the most intractable neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. It is a commonly known idea that misfolded proteins are a representative occurrence in the family of diseases comprising, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases, ALS and other conditions.

In an ongoing study the researchers have revealed the mechanism of toxicity of a misfolded form of the protein that underlies prion diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The scientists used a misfolded form of the prion disease protein, called TPrP. Salient features of their findings are:

1. Using biochemical techniques, the researchers demonstrated that TPrP induces neuronal death by profoundly depleting NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).

2. Restoring NAD+ proved to be the critical factor for the rescue of neurons subjected to TPrP injury. Even when added three days after TPrP exposure, an infusion of NAD+ reversed within only a few hours the fate of neurons that had been doomed to destruction.

3. Loss of NAD+ is suggestive of some other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s where NAD+ depletion could play a role in mitochondrial failure.


2. The article is published in the journal Brain. No citation is provided.