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Southern Research Institute's Neurodegenerative Disease Drug Discovery Program Receives National Institute of Mental Health Funding
Date:10/1/2007

Team will develop "probes" to aid in the search for new Alzheimer's drugs

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Southern Research Institute --- a not-for-profit organization that conducts basic and applied research in the areas of preclinical drug discovery and drug development -- today announced it has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to identify small molecules that activate Nuclear Factor-kB (NF-kB)--a transcription factor which could lead to the development of novel treatments of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Under the direction of Maurizio Grimaldi, M.D., Ph.D., Leader of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, Drug Discovery Division at Southern Research, scientists will execute a drug discovery program utilizing a novel approach based on an original assay developed at Southern Research and high-throughput screening (HTS) technologies. There are several indications that the NF-kB signaling system plays a role in neuronal resilience and in the changes induced by cellular learning such as long term potentiation and depression. Several reports have shown that knocking out NF-kB activity in the brain causes sensitization to toxic stimuli, such as beta-amyloid, excitatory amino acids, and trauma. In addition, activation of NF-kB is a known anti-apoptosis mechanism.

"The global population is aging and the percentage of adults suffering from neurodegenerative diseases is increasing at alarming pace. There is an urgent need for effective therapeutics and methods to protect the brain. There is utility in investigating the possibility that NF-kB up regulation could be of value in mitigating both neurodegenerative phenomenon and learning and memory failure, a unique possibility, to attack the main clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Grimaldi . "Southern Research's drug discovery program is a step towards identifying novel
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SOURCE Southern Research Institute
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