An acid found naturally in the body can block the death of brain cells in mice who have Huntington's disease. There is no cure for Huntington's disease (HD), which is a rare degenerative brain disorder caused by a faulty gene. But researchers at the University of Texas may be one step closer to a treatment, according to experiments on mice with HD.
The mice were treated with a bile acid known as tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), which is produced naturally in the liver. This compound is unusual in being able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. The experiments showed how it protected the cells in the part of the brain affected by HD. This opens up the possibility of a cure for not just HD, but also other neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. A related compound, known as ursodeoxycholic acid is already approved for the treatment of liver disease. But the neuroprotective aspect of bile acids is a surprising application.