Friday, 15 June 2007

Indian scientist in the US identifies a novel gene that can suppress neuro-degeneration and help in the treatment of crippling diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 15: An Indian scientist in the US has identified a
novel gene that can suppress neuro-degeneration and help in the
treatment of crippling diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Dr Udai Bhan Pandey, who works in the department of neurology,
University of Pennsylvania, has noticed that it may be possible to
intervene in neuro-degeneration by augmenting a type of protein
present in the cell. Neuro-degeneration diseases cripple lakhs of people
around the world every year, prominent among them being Parkinson's
and Alzheimer's diseases.
Dr Pandey told this correspondent from the US that his model had
worked on fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. It could be replicated in
human beings too after further research. The discovery gives hopes to
people suffering from neuro-degeneration diseases as it will find a cure
sooner or later.
Neuro-degenerative diseases are caused by deterioration of certain
nerve cells called neurons. Any abnormal function of neurons lead to
their death. Besides Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, Creutzfeldt-
Jakob and multiple sclerosis are caused when the neurons degenerate in
the central nervous system. The defect can now be rectified, if the
Drosophila model succeeds also in human beings.
The study was published in internationally renowned science weekly
magazine, Nature, in the June 14 issue.
According to Dr Pandey, autophagy (a process of self-destruction in the
cell) acts as a compensatory degradation system when certain process is
impaired in Drosophila melanogaster.
"Impairment of autophagy, associated with ageing or genetic variation,
might predispose to neuro-degeneration. Moreover, these findings
suggest that it may be possible to intervene in neuro-degeneration," he
said.

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