New drug target identified for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease

January 30, 2013

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) led by Carmela Abraham, PhD, professor of biochemistry, along with Cidi Chen, PhD, and other collaborators, report that the protein Klotho plays an important role in the health of myelin, the insulating material allowing for the rapid communication between nerve cells. These findings, which appear online in Journal of Neuroscience, may lead to new therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), in which white matter abnormalities are also common but have been largely ignored.

MS is an inflammatory disease which damages the fatty around the axons of the brain and spinal cord. This destruction, loss or scarring of the sheaths results in a broad spectrum of symptoms. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, most commonly women.

In MS the myelin is attacked by the immune system and may not be completely restored by myelin-producing cells (mature oligodendrocytes). The researchers discovered that the addition of Klotho protein to immature oligodendrocytes causes them to mature and manufacture proteins needed for the production of healthy myelin.

"These results taken together indicate that Klotho could become a for multiple sclerosis and other white matter diseases, including AD," explained Abraham.

Abraham and her colleagues have identified, and are working on optimizing, a number of small molecules that could form the basis for the development of therapeutic drugs, which would increase the amount of Klotho protein in the brain.

Since Klotho is not only an age suppressor but also a , as shown by other research groups, interventions with Klotho-enhancing drugs may solve some of the most treatment-resistant human ailments according to Abraham.

Klotho was named after the Greek Goddess and daughter of Zeus, who spins the thread of life. Abraham's lab was the first to publish (in 2008) that Klotho levels in the brain decrease with age.

Explore further: A new treatment for kidney disease-associated heart failure?

Related Stories

A new treatment for kidney disease-associated heart failure?

January 9, 2013

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients frequently suffer from mineral bone disorder, which causes vascular calcification and, eventually, chronic heart failure. Similar to patients with CKD, mice with low levels of the protein ...

Multiple sclerosis: Damaged myelin not the trigger

February 27, 2012

Damaged myelin in the brain and spinal cord does not cause the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS), neuroimmunologists from the University of Zurich have now demonstrated in collaboration with researchers from Berlin, ...

Recommended for you

Scientists track unexpected mechanisms of memory

September 29, 2016

Do you remember Simone Biles's epic gymnastics floor routine that earned her a fifth Olympic medal? Our brains hold on to memories like these via physical changes in synapses, the tiny connections between neurons.

Brain's biological clock stimulates thirst before sleep

September 28, 2016

The brain's biological clock stimulates thirst in the hours before sleep, according to a study published in the journal Nature by researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).

Some brains are blind to moving objects

September 28, 2016

As many as half of people are blind to motion in some part of their field of vision, but the deficit doesn't have anything to do with the eyes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.