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Study reveals method of protecting brain from neurodegenerative illness

15th March 2011

New research from the US has uncovered a mechanism by which neurons could be protected from the effects of neurodegenerative disorders.

A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio has discovered that a substance called caspase-2 can act as a "master switch" that triggers cell death or survival in brain tissue.

It was found that by removing this substance, neurons were able to better withstand the damaging effects of pesticide chemicals to mitochondria, thanks to a process known as autophagy.

The researchers hope that this could now be used as a potential therapeutic target to slow the processes that lead to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Dr Brian Herman, the study's senior author, said: "Identifying initiators in the cell death process is important for determining therapeutic approaches to provide the maximum protection of neurons during neurodegenerative conditions."

In January 2011, the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital conducted a study showing that patients with certain neurodegenerative illnesses could benefit from shunt insertion procedures.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-800462748-ADNFCR

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