Clue found in motor neurone disease18th November 2008
Researchers in London have found a molecule which could lead to new ways of treating motor neurone disease (MND).
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study was carried out by scientists from University College London and King's College London.
The team found that a molecule, known as Wnt3, has a significant function in making a connection between a nerve cell and the muscle it controls.
MND sufferers have "progressively weaker" connections and their muscles cannot intercept the nerve signal which instructs them to move.
Wnt3 helps another molecule, named Agrin, which manages "construction of the connection".
The team studied how the Wnt3 signals worked using animal and cellular tests. All the tests - which were carried out on mice, chickens and cells - showed that Wnt3 improved how Agrin functioned.
Lead researcher Professor Patricia Salinas said: "The work we are publishing today puts an important piece of the puzzle in place and offers up a new possibility for developing drugs to treat MND and other neurodegenerative diseases."
"If we can build up a thorough picture to show how synapses are normally formed between nerves and muscles we can start to look for any elements that aren't working properly in people with MND."
She added that this could prompt treatments to repair post-injury nerve damage.
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Title: Clue found in motor neurone disease
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9242
Date Added: 18th Nov 2008