Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland discovered a novel kind of protein in the neurotrophic factor family of proteins, called conserved dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF), that protects and rescues damaged neurons in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. In an experimental model of Parkinson’s disease, researchers injected a neurotoxin 6-OHDA into the striatum area of the brain in rats. The researchers found that a single injection of CDNF, six hours before the toxin delivery into the striatum, significantly prevented the degeneration of dopamine nerves in the brain and controlled the abnormal movement and behavior of the rats. When CDNF was administered four weeks after the toxin, researchers were able to prevent the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and cure the behavioral imbalance. The researchers believe that neurotrophic factors like CDNF may have significant potential in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease as a neuroprotective, or even as neurorestorative therapy.
Researchers at the Ottawa Health Research Institute in Ontario found that neuronal death in Parkinson's disease occurs when a cellular enzyme called Prx2 is injured. The team conducted a study in mice in which a mitochondria-affecting toxin, MPTP, was used to create a condition similar to Parkinson’s disease. They found a chain of events in which the toxin turns on a cellular switch, called Cdk5, which then turns off Prx2. According to the researchers, the findings suggest that strategies to modulate Prx2 activity may serve as beneficial targets for treatment of Parkinson's disease. "This is of particular importance since Cdk5 is thought to have normal beneficial roles in neurons and modulating a relevant downstream target rather than Cdk5 directly may be a better therapeutic strategy with regard to this pathway," concluded the scientists.
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