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Berkeley Lab scientists help develop promising therapy for Huntington's disease
Date:11/1/2012

There's new hope in the fight against Huntington's disease. A group of researchers that includes scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a compound that suppresses symptoms of the devastating disease in mice.

The compound is a synthetic antioxidant that targets mitochondria, an organelle within cells that serves as a cell's power plant. Oxidative damage to mitochondria is implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's.

The scientists administered the synthetic antioxidant, called XJB-5-131, to mice that have a genetic mutation that triggers Huntington's disease. The compound improved mitochondrial function and enhanced the survival of neurons. It also inhibited weight loss and stopped the decline of motor skills, among other benefits. In short, the Huntington's mice looked and behaved like normal mice.

Based on their findings, the scientists believe that XJB-5-131 is a promising therapeutic compound that deserves further investigation as a way to fight neurodegenerative diseases.

They report their research in a paper that appears online Nov. 1 in the journal Cell Reports.

"The compound was very successful. More research is needed, but it has the real potential to make an impact in treating neurodegenerative disorders," says Cynthia McMurray of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division. She conducted the research with other Berkeley Lab researchers, including Zhiyin Xun, and scientists from the University of Pittsburgh.

Huntington's disease is a genetic disorder in which neurons in certain parts of the brain waste away. Symptoms of the disease typically appear in mid-life. These include loss of muscle coordination and cognitive decline. There is no cure. Currently, patients are prescribed antidepressants or compounds that reduce the loss of motor coordination, neither of which
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Contact: Dan Krotz
dakrotz@lbl.gov
510-486-4019
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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