My watch list
my.bionity.com  
Login  

Finding a way forward in the fight against prion disease

07-Sep-2015

Valerie Sim, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Leonardo Cortez, a research associate in her lab, examining the use of two bile acids as possible therapeutic treatments for prion disease. The research found that ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) helped slow the progression of the disease if given early in the disease process. The bile acids appear to bind the proteins that cause disease and prevent them from spreading.

"These compounds are normally used to help digest lipids and fats, but interestingly they've been used in naturopathic and Chinese remedies for hundreds of years," says Sim. "Right now we have nothing to offer patients with prion disease. This could be a way forward."

While Sim's research marks important new progress, she cautions it needs further study in humans. She also notes that the use of UDCA and TUDCA would not be effective in most cases of prion disease as patients only come to medical attention after the disease is already too far progressed. She does believe the findings could have application for the 10 per cent of Creutzfeldt-Jacob patients who have a genetic form of the disease and who could seek early long-term treatment.

"Some of those people know they are carriers of the disease and currently we have nothing we can give them that works," says Sim. "This is not a cure, but may have some benefit if given early. And for these patients, any benefit is better than nothing."

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • University of Alberta
More about University of Alberta
  • News

    New piece of Alzheimer's puzzle found

    Two years after discovering a way to neutralize a rogue protein linked to Alzheimer's disease, University of Alberta Distinguished University Professor and neurologist Jack Jhamandas has found a new piece of the Alzheimer's puzzle, bringing him closer to a treatment for the disease. In a st ... more

    The Secret Contamination of Polar Bears

    Using a new approach to measure chemical contaminants in polar bears, scientists from Canada and the United States found a large variety of new chlorinated and fluorinated substances, including many new polychlorinated biphenyl metabolites. Worryingly, these previously unrecognized contamin ... more

    Next generation of neuroscience tools

    UAlberta chemistry professor Robert Campbell is developing new ways to see and manipulate the activity of neurons in the brain, which could revolutionize the way we understand the organ that controls most of the activities of the body. "We want to help other researchers apply these new neur ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE