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Scripps Research compound blocks brain cell destruction in Parkinson's disease
Date:2/11/2011

JUPITER, FL, February 11, 2011 Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have produced the first known compound to show significant effectiveness in protecting brain cells directly affected by Parkinson's disease, a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

Although the findings were in animal models of the disease, the effectiveness of the compound, combined with its potential to be taken orally, offers the tantalizing possibility of a potentially useful future therapy for Parkinson's disease patients. The results were published in two separate studies in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

"These studies present compelling data on the first oral, brain-penetrating inhibitor to show significant efficacy in preventing neurodegeneration in both mouse and rat models of Parkinson's disease," said team leader Philip LoGrasso, a professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics and senior director for drug discovery at Scripps Florida. "The compound offers one of the best opportunities we have for the development of an effective neuroprotective treatment."

The new small moleculelabeled SR-3306is aimed at inhibiting a class of enzymes called c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK). Pronounced "junk," these enzymes have been shown to play an important role in neuron (nerve cell) survival. As such, they have become a highly viable target for drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

"A drug like SR-3306 that prevents neurodegeneration would be a quantum leap in the clinical treatment of Parkinson's because all current therapies treat only the symptoms of the disease, not the underlying pathologies," LoGrasso said.

Patients with Parkinson's disease suffer from the loss of a group of neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), part of the midbrain involved in motor control. These cells produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role i
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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