NOVEL treatments for neurodegenerative diseases could be developed after researchers from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK, discovered a new compound that protects against neurodegeneration. Using the antiepileptic drug ethosuximide as a starting point, the team identified a new compound called MPS that has particularly potent neuroprotective activity.
Growth of Neurodegenerative Diseases
New therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are urgently required; the prevalence of such conditions is projected to grow significantly in the context of an ageing population worldwide. Additionally, currently available treatments often do not decelerate or modify these diseases, and there have been difficulties in attempts to develop new drugs for them, such as high attrition rates.
Neuroprotective Capabilities of Ethosuximide
Recent studies have revealed that ethosuximide, an antiepileptic drug, protects against neurodegeneration in nematode worm and rodent models, making it a promising repurposing candidate for treating neurodegenerative conditions; however, with high concentrations of the drug needed for these protective effects to take place, its potential to translate into human health may be limited and the identification of its molecular mechanism of action possibly impeded. The team therefore sought to create a more potent compound based on the chemical structure of ethosuximide.
MPS Compound Potency
In the study, the team identified a molecule called MPS that is chemically similar to ethosuximide but displayed greater potency in reducing neurodegeneration in a worm model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. They believe these findings will facilitate future biochemical studies that may ultimately lead to new therapies for neurodegenerative conditions in humans.
Prof Alan Morgan, University of Liverpool, who led the research, commented: “Our research has revealed a novel neuroprotective activity of MPS that is over 100-times more potent than ethosuximide. This discovery may have translational potential for the treatment of ALS and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases.”
The study was a collaborative effort utilising expertise in chemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance, and nematode worms at the University of Liverpool.
James Coker, Reporter
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