Omega+omega=a mega result?

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Today’s post involves a product from a company. The SoPD has not had any contact with the company or associated parties. This post should not be considered as an endorsement or an advertisement of the product. Recently published results from a clinical trial were interesting enough to stimulate this discussion.

Omega-3 and omega-6 represent two families of fatty acids that have important biological functions in our bodies. A careful balance of them is required in our diets in order for us to function normally.

A recent report from a small clinical trial indicates that daily supplementation with a formulation that includes these molecules could have beneficial effects in Parkinson’s motor symptoms.

In today’s post, we will discuss what omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are, we will review the new report outlining the study results, and discuss why these results could be interesting.

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Source: Foodandwine

Back when I was young and less beautiful, I had a formidable appetite.

Seriously. My consumption rate was the stuff of legend. There were local all-you-can-eat restaurants that would refuse to serve me, for fear that I would liquidate them.

But I am man enough to admit that I was nothing compared to my friend Jason’s younger brother “Peter”.

One day the three of us went down to the local MacDonald’s during one of their promotions (something like 50 cents per Big Mac) and we challenged ourselves to see who could eat the most. Jason sensibly stopped after finishing 3 burgers, while I had to finally throw in the towel on my 6th burger (to be honest I was struggling from burger #4).

Source: Thrillist

Jason and I had to ask Peter to stop on burger #9.

I kid you not.

Think about that for a second: NINE Big Macs!

We were watching in bloated horror as this skinny teenage kid was just sitting there – with a milk shake in one hand – throwing back these burgers like they were nothing. Even now it is grotesque to reminisce about, and I really wonder if we didn’t do serious damage to our livers that day.

That is disgusting. What does it have to do with Parkinson’s?

Well, we all do silly things when we are young and invincible. At that age it seems like you can eat whatever you want and there are no consequences. But of course as we get older, we need to start carefully considering what you are putting into your body.

And recently the results of a clinical study were published that indicate that what we consume could also influence the course of Parkinson’s.

What do you mean?

Continue reading “Omega+omega=a mega result?”

Oligodendrocytes?!?

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Oligodendrocytes are a supportive cell in the brain. They produces a protective coating – called myelin – which insulates the primary projecting branch of neuronal (called axons) and aids in the rapid transmission of signals in the brain.

Medical conditions associated with these cells include the inflammatory condition of multiple sclerosis. It is fair to say that oligodendrocytes have been largely neglected in the context of Parkinson’s research.

But that might be about to rapidly change.

In today’s post, we will discuss what oligodendrocytes do, and explore new research that may point towards a role for oligodendrocytes in Parkinson’s.

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Source: Youtube

The name “oligodendrocyte” comes from the Greek.

‘Oligos’ (ολιγος) meaning small or little; ‘dendros’ (δενδρος) meaning tree or bush; and ‘kytos(κύτος) meaning ‘cavity’ or ‘cell’.

The name was given to cells in the brain with small branches by the Spanish neuroscientist Dr Pío del Río Hortega (1882–1945):

Pío del Río Hortega. Source: RTVE

Del Río Hortega developed a staining method that allowed him to differentiate what the great Ramón y Cajal referred to as the “third element” of cells in the brain. Initially calling them “interfascicular cells”, Del Río Hortega later changed the name to oligodendroglia.

Title: La glía de escasas radiaciones (oligodendroglía).
Author: Del Río-Hortega P.
Journal: Bol. Real Soc. Esp. Hist. Nat.(1921). 21, 63–92.
PMID: N/A

(For those who would like to read more about Pio del Río-Hortega – click here for an excellent review)

Cool. But what do oligodendrocytes do?

Continue reading “Oligodendrocytes?!?”

Ibudilast: A Phosphodiesterase inhibitor

A reader recently asked me about an experimental drug called Ibudilast.

It is a ‘Phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor’.

Recently there was a very interesting result in a clinical trial looking at Ibudilast in a specific neurodegenerative condition. Sadly for the reader that condition was not Parkinson’s, in fact very little research has been done on Ibudilast in Parkinson’s

In today’s post we will look at what Phosphodiesterase inhibitors are, how they work, and discuss why Ibudilast may not be such a good experimental treatment for Parkinson’s.


On April 21-27th, 2018, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) will hold their 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles (California).

I will not be at the meeting, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any news regarding the results of one particular clinical trial. At the meeting, a biopharmaceutical company called MediciNova Inc. will be presenting data regarding one of their clinical trials.

The presentation, entitled Ibudilast – Phosphodiesterase Type 4 Inhibitor – Bi-Modal Therapy with Riluzole in Early Cohort and Advanced Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Patients – Final Report and Future Directions (Source) will be presented by principal investigator of the clinical study, Dr. Benjamin Rix Brooks, of the Carolinas HealthCare System’s Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center at Carolinas HealthCare System Neurosciences Institute.

Dr Brooks will be presenting the results of a single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clnical trial which was conducted to evaluate the safety, tolerability and clinical endpoint responsiveness of a drug called Ibudilast (or MN-166) in subjects with the neurodegenerative condition, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or ALS – also known as motor neuron disease; Click here to read a previous SoPD post about ALS and Click here to learn more about this clinical trial).

What is Ibudilast?

Ibudilast is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor.

What is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor?

Continue reading “Ibudilast: A Phosphodiesterase inhibitor”

UDCA 2.0 = TUDCA?

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has been proposed as a drug that could be repurposed for Parkinson’s. As a medication, it is called ‘Ursodiol‘ and it is used to treat gallstones.

But there are absorption issues with UDCA: The passage of UDCA through the wall of the small intestine is slow and incomplete (Source).

There may be a solution, however, called Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA). Think of it as UDCA-2.0. It is more easily absorbed by the gut. And there is also good evidence to suggest that it has the same beneficial neuroprotective properties as UDCA.

In today’s post we will discuss what exactly UDCA and TUDCA are, review the Parkinson’s research for both, and discuss why one of these drugs should be tested in the clinic for PD.


Gallstones – ouch! Source: Healthline

Let me introduce you to your gallbladder:

It is one of the less appreciated organs; a pear-shaped, hollow organ located just under your liver and on the right side of your body. Its primary function is to store and concentrate your bile. Bile is a yellow-brown digestive enzyme – made and released by the liver – which helps with the digestion of fats in your small intestine (the duodenum).

Source: Mayoclinic

Now, let me introduce you to your gallstones:

Gallstones are hardened deposits that can form in your gallbladder. About 80% of gallstones are made of cholesterol. The remaining 20% of gallstones are made of calcium salts and bilirubin. Bilirubin is the yellow pigment in bile. When the body produces too much Bilirubin or cholesterol, gallstones can develop.

About 10-20% of the population have gallstones (Source), but the vast majority experience no symptoms and need no treatment.

Interesting intro, but what does any of this have to do with Parkinson’s?

One of the treatments for gallstones is called UDCA. And this compound is being considered for “repurposing” as a treatment for Parkinson’s.

What is UDCA?

Continue reading “UDCA 2.0 = TUDCA?”

The autoimmunity of Parkinson’s disease?

Auto

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?”