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New therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases

The focus of work in the Neurosciences Departments Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of the Basque Countrys Faculty of Medicine and Odontology is the investigation of the molecular and cellular bases of neurodegenerative illnesses those that affect the brain and the spinal cord. Some of these neurodegenerative illnesses are well known and affect a significant part of the population, such as Alzheimers disease and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) are studying the signals in the central nervous system - the brain and the spinal cord - that do not function well, in particular, those signals that cause the death of nerve cells. There are basically two types of cells in the central nervous system: neurones and the glial cells. Both types are sensitive to these functioning errors and both can die. In the case of Alzheimers disease, it is the neurones, above all, that die. However, in the case of multiple sclerosis, it is a class of glial cells known as oligodendrocytes that perish.

From in vitro cells to biological samples of human origin

The researchers at the Neurobiology Laboratory are investigating cells in cultures - neurones, oligodendrocytes or other cells of the nervous system -, and are trying to reproduce in vitro circumstances that are thought to be relevant in these ailments. That is to say, they are creating the conditions that cause the death of these cells, in order to determine what molecules intervene in the process from the moment of the lethal signal to the point where the cells collapse. In this type of experimental work a series of molecules involved in the death process are identified, the aim being to come up with pharmaceutical medicines that will improve treatment.

Apart from working with in vitro cells, they are also experimenting with animals that reproduce some of the elements involved in neurodegenerative illnesses u
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Contact: Irati Kortabitarte
iratik@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
10-May-2007


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