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Medical researchers ID potential new drug target that could stop debilitating effects of MS
Date:10/26/2011

s through the receptor M6PR. Another faculty researcher discovered that the M6PR receptor is found mostly in neurons.

"We were just connecting the dots and said: 'OK, if this receptor is expressed in neurons specifically and not expressed in other cells, is it possible that this is the mechanism that allows this granzyme B to get into human neurons and start killing brain cells? What we found out is yes, this death receptor allows this specific molecule to get in. If you block the receptor, you also block the neurotoxic effect in neurons. This is an excellent example of collaboration with other researchers and translational research."

Many existing MS treatments primarily target brain inflammation, which is very effective in the first phase of the disease but not as helpful once patients reach the second phase. Giuliani says what is needed are new medications that can either repair inflamed brain cells or prevent brain degeneration in the first place. This newly discovered drug target could open the door to new medications that do just that prevent brain cell death in the early stages of the disease.

Giuliani adds that with this drug target, only a specific function of a cell would be blocked, not multiple functions of a cell. Many medications currently on the market block multiple functions of a specific type of cell. "We are blocking a specific function, not multiple pathways and eventually this strategy could reduce the side effects of new drugs," he notes.

Giuliani and his fellow researchers are continuing their work in this area.


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Contact: Raquel Maurier
raquel.maurier@ualberta.ca
780-492-5986
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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