Navigation Links
UWM brain research supports drug development from jellyfish protein

With the research support from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Wisconsin biotech company has found that a compound from a protein found in jellyfish is neuro-protective and may be effective in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Testing of aequorin has yielded promising results, said Mark Y. Underwood of Quincy Bioscience located in Madison. Researcher James Moyer, Jr., an assistant professor at UW-Milwaukee, subjected brain cells to the "lab" equivalent of a stroke, and more than half treated with aequorin survived without residual toxicity.

Why does it work? Diseases like Alzheimer's are associated with a loss of "calcium-binding" proteins that protect nerve cells, said Moyer. Calcium is necessary for communication between neurons in the brain, and learning and memory are not possible without it. But too much of it leads to neuron death, interfering with memory and contributing to neurodegenerative diseases.

"There are ways in which cells control the influx of calcium, such as sequestering it by binding it with certain proteins," said Moyer. "If it weren't for these proteins, the high level of calcium would overwhelm the neuron and trigger a cascade of events ultimately leading to cell death."

Calcium-binding proteins decline with age, however, limiting the brain's ability to control or handle the amount of calcium "allowed in."

Aequorin, the jellyfish protein, appears to be a viable substitute.

Moyer, like Underwood, is interested in the "calcium hypothesis of aging and dementia," which is just one of many theories that attempts to explain what is going on in neuron degeneration.

He became interested in aequorin as an undergraduate at UW-Milwaukee, after reading an article that linked the stings of jellyfish with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that his mother has.

Aequorin was discovered in the 1960s and has been used in research for a long time as an indicator of calcium. But the protein has never been tried as a treatment to control calcium levels. Underwood believes his company is at about the 12-year mark in the typical 15-year cycle for a new drug to be developed.

Moyer's research centers on brain changes that occur as a result of aging. Specifically, he is interested in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming new memories. These capabilities not only deteriorate in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, but they also become impaired simply by aging.

Aging increases the number of "doors" that allow calcium ions to enter the cells, he said.

Moyer, who came to UW-Milwaukee from a post-doctoral position at Yale University, performs Pavlovian trace conditioning experiments to evaluate aging-related learning and memory deficits. These tasks first teach rodents to associate one stimulus with another and then test their memory of the association. During training, the stimuli are separated by a brief period of time, which requires the animal to maintain a memory of the first stimulus. The "stimulus free" period makes the task more difficult, especially for older animals.

Moyer's work also has implications outside of disease. He is able to show that at middle age, when the animal's learning ability or memory is not yet impaired, it already shows a drop in the number of neurons that contain an important calcium-binding protein.

"That cellular changes precede memory deficits indicates there is a window of opportunity for intervention before it's too late," he says. "Once the cells are lost, there is little chance of regaining normal brain function."


Source:University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Related biology news :

1. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
2. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
3. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
4. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
5. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
6. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
7. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
8. Birds brains reveal source of songs
9. Loves all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive
10. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
11. A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016   The Weather Company , an ... Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers will be able ... to ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution ... can be personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across ...
(Date:5/16/2016)...   EyeLock LLC , a market leader of ... an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, ... of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Sweden , April 28, 2016 First ... M (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... profit totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin ... 7.12 (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK ... The 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary ... various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Regular discussions on a range of subjects including ... two entities said Poloz. Speaking at a lecture ... , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, which is ... "In certain areas there ... common economic goals, why not sit down and address strategy ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with ... in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, ... scene to track the criminal down. An outbreak ... and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used ... investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole ...
Breaking Biology Technology: