Highlights From 2009 Drug Discovery For Neurodegeneration Conference

Gang, this is just a short “abstract” if you will regarding this conference. The full article can be found on the BrinkZone if you want more info than this short write up supplies. To read full article Click Here.
The Drug Discovery For Neurodegeneration Conference Was held in Washing DC February 2-3d 2009. The conference was presented by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, with the mission to “rapidly accelerate the discovery and development of drugs to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias of cognitive aging.

Although this organization has a focus on Alzheimer’s disease, other CNS related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Progressive Multiple Sclerosis were also discussed. This conference did not focus on “practical measures” per se for treating these diseases, but focused mostly on technologies in development that should be of real benefit to future treatments for these afflictions.
The good news from this conference is the model by how the pharmaceutical industry pursues new drug development is going through substantial changes; seeking more partnerships and new ideas from outside sources such as Universities, smaller companies, aggressively seeking to increase the rate at which they transfer concepts to actual clinical use.

Areas of focus for this conference covered that may yield promising drugs for treating or preventing these diseases, were compounds known as “penetrants” to improve the ability of drugs to pass the blood brain barrier or BBB. Another area of intense research is examining compounds called Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors which have shown real promise as anti cancer compounds which may also have uses in diseases effecting the CNS. One of the most interesting and promising areas of research is looking at specific inhibitors of the enzyme Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) which catalyzes the conversion of the amino acid arginine to NO. An over production of NO is pathologically elevated in Alzheimer’s as well as during strokes, migraine headaches, and cerebral palsy. Of course, one can’t simply block the production of NO due to its important in human health. However, a selective inhibitor would allow reduced levels of NO in the brain without negatively impacting the rest of the body where NO is essential for survival and health.

Clearly, effective treatments for these diseases are lacking currently, so controlling known environmental causes (diet, smoking, etc) and using nutrients known to be protective to the brain is still our best strategy.

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10 Comments
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