Neuroscientists in Taiwan identify key player in brain disease

08/20/2019 04:23 PM
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Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) Neuroscientists at Academia Sinica have identified a key protein that exacerbates brain diseases such as Huntington's disease, which could shed light on future drug development, the institute said Tuesday.

Siew Jian Jing (蕭建靖), leading scientist for the research published in the journal Nature Communications Aug. 2, said the team has found the novel role of Galectin-3 (Gal3) in promoting microglia-mediated neuroinflammation -- which subsequently worsens neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's.

Siew said the team developed its experiment based on the model of Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive deterioration of motor and cognitive functions, using mice to observe their 14-week life cycle under the effects of the disease.

"Through injection of a virus that suppresses Gal3, we have been able to extend the mice's lives by roughly five days, while we could also significantly increase their movement performance," Siew said. Healthy mice generally live up to two to three years.

In active microglia, Gal3 accumulates, disabling cells from clearing damaged materials and even triggering more severe inflammation, Siew said.

It is therefore important to develop a Gal3 inhibitor and slow down the disease course, said Chern Yijuang (陳儀莊), adding that the team is working with the glycomedicine science branch at Academia Sinica.

Once that becomes successful, the researchers could step into the next phase, which is clinical trials, Chern said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)


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