There are several molecules that can slow down or even reverse neuron death. One example is naturally occurring brain protein, called glial-cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). It can protect and restore neurons, which can help patients recovering after stroke, people with drug addiction and suffering from Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.
The huge obstacle for developing therapies for the brain is delivery. Almost no potential drugs can make their way though the very tight mesh of endothelial cells lining the blood vessels in the brain, which is the blood-brain barrier.
Researchers have been trying to overcome this hurdle for quite a number of years. Now there’s a promising approach, developed by a “garage-band” biotech company, ArmaGen Technologies, located in Santa Monica, California. The founder, William Pardridge, and his collegues developed a molecule, called AGT-190, which acts like a Trojan Horse. It sneaks across the barrier that separates blood and brain tissue and delivers its contents – GDNF that has a possibility for regenerating or rejuvenating some of the sick cells in the brain. The company is waiting for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to give their permission for carrying out human safety tests.
Read more about AGT-190 and other approaches to deliver drugs to the brain.
I am always very pleased to see new research results in the “misterious” area of neurophysiology of aging. One of the lastest is published in the July 28 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. A group of scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine found that the mediator of diet restriction, SIRT1, helps mice survive when the food is scarce.
Researchers compared two groups of mice, one that had elevated levels of SIRT1 in the brain, called BRASTO, and a SIRT1-deficient group. BRASTO mice were much more active after fasting, also they were able to maintain their body temperature. Investigators link these findings to the role of SIRT1 in the hpothalamus region of the brain. During diet restriction SIRT1 enhanced the production of a specific neural receptor in the
hypothalamus involved in regulating metabolic rate, food intake and
This is the evidence of an indirect link between SIRT1 expression in the brain and life extension. Since SIRT1 seems to be one of the key mediators of responce to diet restriction, and diet restriction was shown to increase lifespan in different model animals, SIRT1 may contribute to life extension effect of low calorie diet. More information can be found here.
There’s this fascinating article published in Science that I decided to illustrate. This is my retelling of the story.