As noted in Technology Networks, a new four-year, $3 million grant will enable Scripps Research scientists to advance compounds that may protect neurons in diseases caused by toxic protein accumulation, including Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Those diseases appear to share a common mechanism, the clumping of improperly formed proteins, which leads to destruction of nerve cells’ energy supply—and cell death. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s, is one such disease. The toxic protein accumulation in ALS leads to the death of the critical neurons that link the brain to muscles. In an animal model of ALS, the compounds developed at Scripps Research by professors Corinne Lasmézas, PhD, Thomas Bannister, PhD, and colleagues improved the animals’ strength and ability to move.
“In 2015, we discovered this new mechanism in these diseases, so we set up a drug discovery strategy to turn it into much-needed treatments,” Lasmézas says. “We are now optimizing promising compounds.”