Researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev have discovered that derivatives of a peptide called 'humanin', may hold cure for necrosis-related diseases such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), myocardial infarction and stroke. These findings could provide a new lead compound for the development of drug therapies for these diseases.
Strokes, heart attacks and TBIs are separate diseases with certain shared pathologies that achieve a common end, cell death and human injury due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. In all these diseases, a lack of blood supply to affected tissues begins a signaling pathway that ultimately halts the production of energy-releasing ATP molecules, a death sentence for most cells.
By employing derivatives of humanin, a naturally occurring peptide encoded in the genome of cellular mitochondria, researchers are working to interrupt this process, thus buying precious time for tissues whose cellular mechanisms have called it quits. They work by counteracting the decrease in ATP levels caused by necrosis. The researchers tested the effectiveness of the humanin analogues AGA(C8R)-HNG17 and AGA-HNG by treating neuronal cells with these peptides prior to exposure to a necrotic agent, and the experiments were a success.
Researchers also performed in vivo studies by treating mice that had had TBIs with an HNG17 analogue, which successfully reduced cranial fluid buildup and lowered the mice's neuronal severity scores, a metric in which a higher number corresponds with greater degrees of neurological motor impairment.
As the peptides used during the experiment are derivatives of naturally occurring humanin, an ideal treatment might involve a drug delivery system with the HNG17 as the lead compound, a process aided by the ability of the peptides to penetrate the cell membrane without the use of additional reagents.