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Neuronal regeneration by inhibition of the enzyme Adam-17

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The Neurobiology Unit research group, whose leader is Dr. Carmen Estrada, has discovered how to promote the process of neuronal regeneration by inhibition of the enzyme ADAM-17.

Description

The most prevalent and serious neurological diseases are those caused by the irreversible loss of neurones in different zones of the nervous system. Among the most frequent are Alzheimer's disease (with neuronal loss in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex) and Parkinson's disease (with selective death of neurones in the substantia nigra, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Neuronal loss is also found among other cases of severe cranial shock.

There are currently no effective treatments available for any of the alterations of the central nervous system that involve loss of neurones. In this situation, control of the processes of neurogenesis (formation of new neurones from neural stem cells)

represents a promising route towards the discovery of efficacious treatments of these diseases, although at the moment, achieving such control presents various problems.

Nevertheless, the research group has been able to open new ways to overcome these limitations, thanks to the development of this new technology.

Tecnology

Two types of cell, neurones and glial cells, coexist in the brain. The glial cells are components of the nervous system that have the principal function of supporting the neurones. Both types of cell are generated from the differentiation of the stem cells that exist in the brain. When a lesion is suffered, the stem cells are activated and produce mostly new glial cells in place of neurones.

The research group has discovered that the enzyme ADAM-17 controls this process, and has managed to reverse it, thus giving rise to the generation of new neurones rather than glial cells, by means of the inhibition of this enzyme.

Advantages

This enables neurones to be regenerated in cases of lesion, and so opens new approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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