A team led by Professor David Rubinsztein, UK DRI at Cambridge, have shown that a prescribed drug to treat high blood pressure may be effective in treating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and forms of dementia.
In a study published today (18th April) in the journal Nature Communications, David’s group and the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (University of Cambridge) found that Felodipine, a hypertension drug, was able to prevent the build-up of misfolded and potentially neurotoxic proteins in several neurodegenerative conditions.
In healthy individuals, the body uses a mechanism known as autophagy, or ‘self-eating’, to eat and break down toxic materials. However, in neurodegenerative diseases this mechanism is impaired and unable to clear the proteins building up in the brain. There are currently no drugs that can induce autophagy in patients, but in this study, the researchers showed that Felodipine was effective at reducing the build-up of protein aggregates in the genetically modified mice with the Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease mutations and in the zebrafish dementia model. The treated animals also showed fewer signs of the diseases.