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Medicine Biotech

Effects of Parkinson's-Disease Mutation Reversed In Cells 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the flipping-genetic-switches dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from a press release at Eurekalert: "UC San Francisco scientists working in the lab used a chemical found in an anti-wrinkle cream to prevent the death of nerve cells damaged by mutations that cause an inherited form of Parkinson's disease. A similar approach might ward off cell death in the brains of people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, the team suggested in a study reported online in the journal Cell on August 15 (abstract). ... Mutations that cause malfunction of the targeted enzyme, PINK1, are directly responsible for some cases of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Loss of PINK1 activity is harmful to the cell’s power plants, called mitochondria, best known for converting food energy into another form of chemical energy used by cells, the molecule ATP. In Parkinson’s disease, poorly performing mitochondria have been associated with the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra, which plays a major role in control of movement. Loss of these cells is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and the cause of prominent symptoms including rigidity and tremor. A UCSF team led by Shokat, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, used the chemical, called kinetin, to increase mutant PINK1 enzyme activity in nerve cells to near normal levels. 'In light of the fact that mutations in PINK1 produce Parkinson’s disease in humans, the finding that kinetin can speed mutated PINK1 activity to near normal levels raises the possibility that kinetin may be used to treat these patients,' Shokat said."
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Effects of Parkinson's-Disease Mutation Reversed In Cells

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  • This is actually very exciting for me. I have a fairly advanced Lyme disease with other related diseases (protomyxzoa). I have a worry for long term health issues because Lyme is consistently linked to Parkinson's in the long run. Seeing articles like this always give me the hope I've been expecting with modern medicine and technology. Joe
    • Since English isn't my mother tongue, there are times I find myself struggling to understand things others have written.

      I have read, and re-read the following, which I copied from TFA:

      'In light of the fact that mutations in PINK1 produce Parkinsonâ(TM)s disease in humans, the finding that kinetin can speed mutated PINK1 activity to near normal levels ...'

      I dunno about you, but the more times I re-read the above the more confused I got

      I do understand the gist of TFA is that the chemical "Kinetin" somehow revived the mitochondria to produce the molecule ATP, and that somehow, delayed or stopped the death of the dopamine-producing nerve cells that had been affected by either the

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        Since English isn't my mother tongue, there are times I find myself struggling to understand things others have written.

        I have read, and re-read the following, which I copied from TFA:

        'In light of the fact that mutations in PINK1 produce Parkinsonâ(TM)s disease in humans, the finding that kinetin can speed mutated PINK1 activity to near normal levels ...'

        I dunno about you, but the more times I re-read the above the more confused I got

        Well, it talks about the mitochondria "perform poorly". My guess is that the mutation somehow slows down the operation of the mitochondria, which would have been linked to Parkinsons. So my takeaway is that the kinetin speeds back up the operation of the mitochondria to close to non-mutated levels. But yes the summary is worded rather poorly.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I wonder if this could also be used to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The current best theory on how it works is that the mitochondria are not working properly and so energy is not delivered to the muscles properly.

          Of course it will probably be decades before I can benefit from this...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They are claiming that mutated PINK1 does its job slower but if you mess with something else it can make mutated PINK1 do its job as fast as nonmutated PINK1 would have done.

      • by Optali (809880)

        Oh, oh, I read ATP, speeding up and mitochondria... and I can't but think on a new market:

        Kinetin supplementation for athletes !!!

    • How can lyme disease be at all related to Parkinsons? Are they saying that advanced stage lyme disease has similar symptoms to parkinsons?

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @11:13PM (#44598055) Homepage

    Back to the Future IV - Great Scott!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I didn't think any of that stuff actually worked. Now to rub some on my brain.....aahhhh. Soothing.

  • And I just can't seem to find anything snarky or witty to say about it. :-( Oh Slashdot...
  • See this site for some of the benefits of coconut oil: (Parkinson's is mentioned)
    http://m.naturalnews.com/news/039388_coconut_oil_dementia_alzheimers_disease.html [naturalnews.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "This is not just a 'health nut' making these claims - it's all backed by scientific research and touted by many natural healthcare professionals like, Dr. Bruce Fife and Dr. Russell Blaylock."

      Oh, well, that puts me at ease. I'm usually pretty skeptical of these things, but there's nothing like a long-winded "trust me" to quell my concerns.

    • by pnagel (107544) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @03:34AM (#44598779)

      This comment is actually much more relevant to the OP than it may seem.

      As the OP says, Parkinsonson's is essentially a fuel crisis of the brain due to impaired mitochondrial function.

      One way to fix this would be to repair the mitochondrial function, as the OP article tries to.

      But another way would be to find an alternative fuel source for the brain.

      Those who promote coconut oil point of that it it specifically the metabolism of glucose that is impaired in Parkinson's (hence the modern trend of calling it Type III Diabetes). But there are many other energy substrates used my mitochondria, and ketones is one type that brain cells can also make use of.

      Coconut oil is high in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), which have the unique property of being immediately converted to ketones in the liver. Thus the point of the coconut oil is to give the starving brain something else to run on.

      Another way to raise ketones is by using a ketogenic diet (hence the name), as was the standard effective treatment for epilepsy early last century before drugs became available (and ketogenic diets have been making a comeback as alternative treatment when drugs don't help).

      In a ketogenic diet, the vast majority of one's energy is derived from fat sources, not carbohydrates. As a side effect of metabolising fat for energy all over the body, ketones are released at a much higher level than otherwise, and these ketones themselves are then available as fuel for the brain (and other tissues).

      • Another way to raise ketones is by using a ketogenic diet (hence the name)

        How close is the ketogenic diet to an Atkins style low carbohydrate diet?

        • by pnagel (107544) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @11:12AM (#44600299)

          The induction phase of the Atkins diet is mostly a ketogenic diet. For the treatment of epilepsy, there are now a handful of variations on the original ketogenic diet used since the 1920s, one of these is known as the "Modified Atkins" [charliefoundation.org].

          However, there are stricter metabolic goals when on a ketogenic diet and special things to watch out for (too much protein can knock one out of ketosis, for example), so it is best to approach a ketogenic diet as a specialty topic in its own right rather than as something that a different low-carb diet may or may not achieve as a side effect.

          There is a lot of recent research on the neuroprotective properties of a ketogenic diet, not just for Alzheimer's, but also for Parkinsons and stroke. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/ [nih.gov] for example.

  • In other words... they don't *actually* have any good news. They're just particularly hopeful that they will.

    Sounds like somebody is using a particularly optimistic phrasing in order to get funding for more research.

    Not to belittle such research, but until that research actually bears real fruit, it feels to me like they are deliberately trying to mislead people into thinking that a practical cure or treatment is basically here already (even though they don't actually come right out and say so), and to me that's not any better than the conmen who travelled from village to village in the 1700's selling "snake oil".

    • No, in other words, they're being responsible and cautious in their claims.

      Are you really clamoring for more press releases that trumpet a "breakthrough" or a "cure"? It seems to me that we get plenty of those already, and I, for one, am pretty sick of them.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Actually, I'd just appreciate if they were just a whole lot more up front about the fact that they haven't actually verified any of their hypotheses yet. They dance around this using what seems to be carefully chosen verbiage that reminds me all too much of people who try to twist the truth to make things sound better than they actually are, but don't want to get caught in any actual outright lie. Is forthright honesty really too much to expect from people?
    • by cjjjer (530715)
      You realize that this is the basis of all large scale research funding?
    • to me that's not any better than the conmen who travelled from village to village in the 1700's selling "snake oil".

      The con men were themselves conned. There's one snake whose oil does in fact provide some of the benefits that were claimed for snake oil: Enhydris chinensis, the Chinese water snake. But too many snake oil peddlers were under the impression that any snake would work, which is where snake oil got its bad reputation. And then there was Clark Stanley's snake oil based on a Hopi recipe, which worked (it was similar to modern capsaicin and camphor rubs) but was ruled as mislabeled because it didn't come from a

  • What? Is that the first occurence of the chemical? I mean, the scientists just tested several cosmetics to look for a useful chemical? In the past, scientists looked for useful chemicals in plants or even designed them. Now they 'find' useful chemicals in products.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Few things drive science forward more than the need for French designed anti-aging skin products.

      If women weren't so vain, we'd still be stuck in 1820.

  • by Eukariote (881204) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @02:51AM (#44598687)

    This is not the first time that a protocol that restores energy metabolism, or protects it, has been found effective. And not just in early-onset Parkinson's. See for example the work of Birkmeyer [google.com] who developed a protocol around NADH and Co-enyme Q10 (both co-enzymes active in glucose metabolism). Or the use of coconut oil [undergroun...porter.com] (for the lauric acid contained therein) as a dietary addition to provide ketones as an alternative for glucose to energize cells: also found effective for many Alzheimers patients.

    The ketogenic approach is easy to try as coconut oil is readily available. The Birkmeyer protocol requires a few supplements, in particular stablized NADH to be taken on an empty stomach.

  • I'm sure Michael J. Fox heard the news and started quivering in anticipation.
  • This article is so highly paywalled I have tried to access it from two large public research universities and neither of them has access to this yet even though they subscribe to Cell. They want the same $31.50 for the article from those universities as they want from anyone else.
  • Every month this sort of article comes out. Maybe they are getting close. Somebody is going to get the cure or the vaccine but today the best treatment for humans is levadopa and that drug is from the 1950s. There are lots of things that can treat PD in a mouse or a monkey but for people, not so much. Although injection of Ganglioside GM-1 had a successful clinical trial.
  • ...isn't this exactly the sort of research that destroyed Raccoon City?

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