(RxWiki News) The discovery of a small family of molecules could lead to big advances in the treatment of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases. The molecules protect brain cells in these nerve-degenerative diseases.
Based on this new class of compounds, Dallas-based startup EncephRx will develop drug therapies that could potentially prevent nerve-cell damage in the brain and delay the onset of these diseases, which afflict more than 5 million in the U.S.
Current treatments do not halt or reverse nerve damage and only treat symptoms, sometimes with severe side effects. EncephRx's drug would be the first on the market to prevent brain cells from dying if proven safe and effective.
A study in mice showed the compounds were effective, setting the stage for them to become an effective treatment for patients with degenerative brain diseases, said synthetic organic chemist Edward R. Biehl, the chemistry professor who led development of the compounds at SMU.
One of the compounds (HSB-13), tested in Huntington's disease animal models, proved to be the most significant. The compound proved nontoxic while reducing degeneration in an area of the forebrain and improving behavioral performance. HSB-13 also proved effective in a commonly used fly model of Alzheimer's disease.
Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases, while distinct diseases, all steadily erode neurons in the mid-brain, according to researchers. Motor skills are affected, tremors develop and memory loss occurs as the diseases progress.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University tested more than 100 compounds over four years before determining the safety and efficacy of this group of compounds' neuroprotective benefits. The universities will assist EncephRx with further research.