In Parkinson, Alzheimer and other nerve degenerative disease scientists have identified a family of small molecules that brings in new hope in protecting the brain cells from damage.Researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and The University of Texas at Dallas, who made the discovery, are conducting trials on humans. Discovering effective drugs based on these molecules is the next phase in this research work.
EncephRx, a biotechnology and therapeutics company, will develop drug therapies based on the new class of compounds as a pharmaceutical for preventing nerve-cell damage, delaying onset of degenerative nerve disease and improving symptoms.
If proved effective and nontoxic in humans, EncephRx's small-molecule pharmaceuticals would be the first therapeutic tools able to stop affected brain cells from dying.
"Our compounds protect against neurodegeneration in mice. Given successful development of the compounds into drug therapies, they would serve as an effective treatment for patients with degenerative brain diseases," said Edward R. Biehl of the SMU.
"Additional research needs to be done, but these compounds have the potential for stopping or slowing the relentless loss of brain cells in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," said Santosh R. D'Melloof the UT Dallas.
The most promising lead compound, designated HSB-13, was tested in Huntington's disease animal models. It not only reduced degeneration in a part of the forebrain but also improved behavioral performance while proving nontoxic.
The compound also was efficacious in a commonly used fly model of Alzheimer's disease.
The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.