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 ...

Hopes for reversing age-associated effects in MS patients

January 6, 2012
New research highlights the possibility of reversing ageing in the central nervous system for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The study is published today, 06 January, in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

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, ...

Hope for infant brain injuries like cerebral palsy as well as multiple sclerosis

June 27, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new study published in Nature Neuroscience, a team of researchers revealed the discovery of a key protein necessary for nerve repair and could lead to the development of a treatment for brain injuries ...

Recommended for you

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

New study reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons function during decision making

July 19, 2017
By training mice to perform a sound identification task in a virtual reality maze, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have identified striking contrasts in how groups of neurons ...

Memory takes time, researchers conclude

July 19, 2017
How short-term memories become long-term ones has frequently been explored by researchers. While a definitive answer remains elusive, New York University scientists Thomas Carew and Nikolay Kukushkin conclude that this transformation ...

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.