Scientists are exploring the possibility that a single drug may be able to treat a range of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the BBC News.
In a study, U.K. scientists successfully prevented brain cells from dying in mice with prion disease. Researchers from the University of Leicester discovered how a build-up of proteins caused brain cells to die.
According to the BBC, many neuro-degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, can lead to a similar build-up of proteins that are not put together correctly. These proteins are known as ‘misfolded proteins.’
As the level of misfolded proteins rises in the brain, the brain cells attempt to stop the production of all new proteins. Because the brain cells need these proteins to function, the process ultimately results in their death.
By preventing the cells from shutting down protein production, scientists then prevented the brain from dying, and the mice lived significantly longer.
The study, published in the journal Nature, raises the possibility that the same method could be used for other diseases.