- A team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) say they've successfully tested these compounds in mice.
- These are caused by an abnormal version of a brain protein
called a prion.
- In these diseases, the prions fold in an abnormal way,
and the effect seems to be infectious. Abnormal proteins builds up in the
brain and eventually kill off other brain cells.
- Suzette Priola and colleagues at NIAID's Rocky Mountain
Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana studied compounds known as cyclic tetrapyrroles.
These are currently used in treating cancer.
- They injected mice with a high dose of scrapie, a sheep
disease, and then gave them one of three different cyclic tetrapyrroles
during the 80-day incubation period of the disease.
- According to the study published in the journal Science,
depending on when and how they got the drugs, the mice lived from 50 to
300 per cent longer than untreated mice. Multiple doses of the drugs
provided better protection than just one dose.
- People can get BSE from eating infected beef. Mad cow
disease struck Britain in the 1980's " and a new form of CJD, called
vCJD, claimed more victims. It has been linked to BSE.
- This new strain has killed more than 40 people. Doctors
still do not know whether this could lead to another epidemic since the
disease has an incubation period that can last for decades.
- Priola says that since diagnosis of CJD in humans is
made only after symptoms appear, a compound is needed that works later
in the disease.
- The drugs, say researchers, would not offer a cure but
might prevent or slow down the illness.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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