Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time discovered a killing mechanism that could underpin a range of the most intractable neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
The new study, published recently in the journal Brain, revealed the mechanism of toxicity of a misfolded form of the protein that underlies prion diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Our study reveals a novel mechanism of neuronal death involved in a neurodegenerative protein-misfolding disease,” said Corinne Lasmézas, a TSRI professor who led the study. “Importantly, the death of these cells is preventable. In our study, ailing neurons in culture and in an animal model were completely rescued by treatment, despite the continued presence of the toxic misfolded protein. This work suggests treatment strategies for prion diseases—and possibly other protein misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer’s.