20 January 2006

Another Anti-Alzheimer's Compound

This bio.com newsfeature points to research done at Northwestern University.

As described in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the compound, called MW01-5-188WH, selectively inhibits production of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines by glia, important cells of the central nervous system that normally help the body mount a response, but are overactivated in certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

The compound was designed and synthesized in the laboratory of D. Martin Watterson at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, using a synthetic chemistry platform developed in his lab by researchers at the Northwestern University Center for Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology (CDDCB) for the rapid discovery of new potential therapeutic compounds.

Watterson is co-director of the CDDCB, the J.G. Searle Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry at the Feinberg School.

There is a delicate balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory hormones, including cytokines, in the neuron's environment. Rational drug design methods allow the targeted development of chemical compounds designed for very specific purposes. These compounds are not necessarily safe and effective because they were "rationally designed." They must still go through a thorough vetting process by national drug regulatory agencies. But even if these pinpoint specific compounds fail the tests for regulatory approval, they are often still useful scientific probes for studying biological systems. Development of these rapid discovery tools is one of many new mechanisms propelling biological science rapidly ahead.

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