Brian (digibri) wrote,

Researchers Discover New Way to Stimulate Brain
to Release Antioxidants; Potential Drug Approach for Stroke, Alzheimer's
and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders; Research Published as Cover Story
in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

Wow, that's pretty interesting!
Medical science is just marching along, isn't it?


Jan 9, 2006 5:05:00 PM

Copyright Business Wire 2006

LA JOLLA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 9, 2006--

A joint research effort between researchers at the Burnham Institute for
Medical Research in La Jolla, CA, and a team from Japan (Iwate
University, Osaka City University, Gifu University, Iwate Medical
University) has discovered a novel way to treat stroke and
neurodegenerative disorders. This approach works by inducing nerve cells
in the brain and the spine to release natural antioxidants that protect
nerve cells from stress and free radicals that lead to neurodegenerative
diseases. Until this discovery, researchers were unable to induce
release of these specific antioxidants directly in nerve cells, at the
site where damage and degeneration occurs.

In stroke and various neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's
disease and Lou Gehrig's disease, glutamate, an amino acid found in high
quantities in the brain, is thought to accumulate. At normal
concentrations, glutamate acts as a neurotransmitter that nerves use to
communicate. However, at excessive levels glutamate is toxic, resulting
in over stimulation of nerve cells, known as excitotoxicity, and causing
excessive stress on the nerve cells eventually ending in cell death.
Studies described in this report suggest that NEPPs (short for NEurite
outgrowth-Promoting Prostaglandins), compounds that accumulate in nerve
cells, prevent nerve damage by activating the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway that
regulates the production of antioxidants which relieve cells of damaging
free radicals that result from excitotoxicity.

"This is the first reported evidence that this protective response can
be activated directly in nerve cells to release antioxidants and counter
oxidative stress," said Stuart Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Del
E. Webb Center for Neurosciences and Aging at the Burnham Institute and
senior author of the study. "These findings provide support for further
investigation of NEPP drugs to potentially treat ischemic stroke,
multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and other
neurodegenerative disorders."

Researchers found that NEPPs were able to activate a pathway in nerve
cells that is designed to protect against oxidative and nitrosative
stress (which produces free radicals) and excitotoxicity. This pathway,
known as Keap1/Nrf2, regulates the production of natural antioxidants,
such as bilirubin, that can protect against oxidative stress resulting
from ischemic stroke and degenerative disorders.

A paper detailing the findings of this study, entitled "Activation of
the Keap1/Nrf2 Pathway for Neuroprotection by Electrophilic Phase II
Inducers" (Satoh, et al.), will be published as the cover story for the
January 17th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences. In addition, the findings will be made available by expedited
publication at the journal's website the week of January 9th. This
research was supported with grants from the National Institutes of

About the Burnham Institute for Medical Research

The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, founded in 1976, is an
independent not-for-profit biomedical research institution dedicated to
advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge and providing the
foundation for tomorrow's medical therapies. The Institute is home to
three major centers: the Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Neuroscience and
Aging Center, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Since
1981, the Institute's Cancer Center has been a member of the National
Cancer Institute's prestigious Cancer Centers program. Discoveries by
Burnham scientists have contributed to the development of new drugs for
Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and several forms of cancer. Today
the Institute employs over 725, including more than 550 scientists. The
majority of the Institute's funding derives from federal sources, but
private philanthropic support is essential to continuing bold and
innovative research. For additional information about the Institute and
ways to support the research efforts of the Institute, visit

Source: Burnham Institute for Medical Research
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