The ibuprofen post

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Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used for treating pain, fever, and inflammation.

Previous preclinical research has demonstrated that ibruproen has the ability to reduce the loss of neurons in models of Parkinson’s, and epidemiological data suggests that it may lower the risk of actually developing the condition.

Recently published research points towards a specific sub-set of individuals vulnerable to Parkinson’s that ibuprofen may be particularly useful for: LRRK2-genetic variant carriers.

In today’s post, we will discuss the origins of ibruprofen, review some of the previous research indicating neuroprotective properties, and do a deep dive into the new LRRK2 data.

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Source: BBC

This story starts in 1953.

And it begins with two chemists – Stewart Adams and John Nicholson (Stewart is the chap in the banner photo at the top of this post holding the container of pills) – who were both working for Boots, a health/beauty retailer and pharmacy chain in the UK.

Source: Boots

Stewart and John were on a mission: To produce a new drug for rheumatoid arthritis.

You see, in 1953 there were only two drugs available for treating inflammatory pain: a corticosteroid drug and high dose aspirin. And neither of them was ideal. The chemists started their quest by looking for the activity of variations of aspirin, hoping to find a powerful alternative.

Adams (left) & Nicholson (middle). Source: Boots

Their search was not easy – it took 16 years and they screened over 20,000 molecules – but output of that effort was a drug called ibuprofen (sold under ‘Brufen’).

Legend has it that Adams initially tested the drug on himself as treatment for a particularly bad hangover (Source).

Ibuprofen was launched on the 3rd February 1969 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in the United Kingdom, and it was introduced in the United States in 1974. It went on to become one of the most prescribed drugs in history and it is still widely used. In fact in 2015, Boots UK sold an average of one pack of ibuprofen every 2.92 seconds and, across all UK retailers, the sales figures for the medicine reached over £150 million.

This is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with Parkinson’s?

Continue reading “The ibuprofen post”

The autoimmunity of Parkinson’s disease?

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In this post we discuss several recently published research reports suggesting that Parkinson’s disease may be an autoimmune condition. “Autoimmunity” occurs when the defence system of the body starts attacks the body itself.

This new research does not explain what causes of Parkinson’s disease, but it could explain why certain brain cells are being lost in some people with Parkinson’s disease. And such information could point us towards novel therapeutic strategies.


Nature_cover,_November_4,_1869

The first issue of Nature. Source: SimpleWikipedia

The journal Nature was first published on 4th November 1869, by Alexander MacMillan. It hoped to “provide cultivated readers with an accessible forum for reading about advances in scientific knowledge.” It has subsequently become one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, with an online readership of approximately 3 million unique readers per month (almost as much as we have here at the SoPD).

Each Wednesday afternoon, researchers around the world await the weekly outpouring of new research from Nature. And this week a research report was published in Nature that could be big for the world of Parkinson’s disease. Really big!

On the 21st June, this report was published:

Nature
Title: T cells from patients with Parkinson’s disease recognize α-synuclein peptides
Authors: Sulzer D, Alcalay RN, Garretti F, Cote L, Kanter E, Agin-Liebes J, Liong C, McMurtrey C, Hildebrand WH, Mao X, Dawson VL, Dawson TM, Oseroff C, Pham J, Sidney J, Dillon MB, Carpenter C, Weiskopf D, Phillips E, Mallal S, Peters B, Frazier A, Lindestam Arlehamn CS, Sette A
Journal: Nature. 2017 Jun 21. doi: 10.1038/nature22815.
PMID: 28636593

In their study, the investigators collected blood samples from 67 people with Parkinson’s disease and from 36 healthy patients (which were used as control samples). They then exposed the blood samples to fragments of proteins found in brain cells, including fragments of alpha synuclein – this is the protein that is so closely associated with Parkinson’s disease (it makes regular appearances on this blog).

What happened next was rather startling: the blood from the Parkinson’s patients had a strong reaction to two specific fragments of alpha synuclein, while the blood from the control subjects hardly reacted at all to these fragments.

In the image below, you will see the fragments listed along the bottom of the graph (protein fragments are labelled with combinations of alphabetical letters). The grey band on the plot indicates the two fragments that elicited a strong reaction from the blood cells – note the number of black dots (indicating PD samples) within the band, compared to the number of white dots (control samples). The numbers on the left side of the graph indicate the number of reacting cells per 100,000 blood cells.

Table1

Source: Nature

The investigators concluded from this experiment that these alpha synuclein fragments may be acting as antigenic epitopes, which would drive immune responses in people with Parkinson’s disease and they decided to investigate this further.

Continue reading “The autoimmunity of Parkinson’s disease?”