Scientists from University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology have identified a novel therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease.
Lead researcher Professor Raimo K. Tuominen and colleagues have identified a growth factor that can be used to halt the progress of damage brought on by a nerve poison, and possibly restore the function of damaged cells.
The team is investigating two new nerve growth factors. MANF (mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor) and CDNF.
MANF is released from glial cells in the midbrain and is a member of the same growth factor family as CDNF.
The team found that in the experimental PD model, MANF and CDNF injections into the brain prevented dopamine nerve destruction caused by nerve poison and to some extent even restored the function of damaged cells in rats.
This suggests that MANF spreads more readily in brain tissue than other known growth factors.
This may be a highly significant finding in respect to the development of growth factor therapy for PD.