Ancient Worm Unveils New Methods to Remove Toxic Cells in Huntington’s Disease

As a new study resurfaces, we learn that in cases of Huntington’s or Parkinson’s diseases, new therapeutic approaches are on their way thanks to an ancient worm. A team, formed by professor Roger Pocock, from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, and some researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted by Professor David Rubinsztein decided to have a closer look at the microRNA functions.

They discovered that microRNAs are significant in establishing protein wholes. Those proteins that have amassed due to an issue in the manner of ‘folding’ that defined their form. MicroRNAs, bits of genetic material, are small but significant molecules that control a lot of various genes at the same time.

The researchers wanted to discover specific microRNAs that are essential for controlling protein wholes and homed in on miR-1, which is identified in low levels in patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, for example. Professor Pocock stated: “The sequence of miR-1 is 100 percent conserved; it’s the same sequence in the Caenorhabditis elegans worm as in humans even though they are separated by 600 million years of evolution.”

Ancient Worm Unveils Ways to Remove Toxic Cells in Huntington’s Disease

The team developed a process of removal of miR-1 in the worm and examined the effect in a preclinical form of Huntington’s. They identified that when you don’t possess this microRNA, there’s more aggregation. This submitted miR-1 was essential to eliminate Huntington’s aggregates.

The team explained furthermore that miR-1 ensured protection against toxic protein aggregates by managing the expression of the TBC-7 protein in worms. This protein sets the mechanism of autophagy, the body’s way of eliminating and reusing harmed and damaged cells. It is also essential for removing toxic protein from cells.

Professor Pocock detailed: “We asked a fundamental biological question to dissect a molecular mechanism that now is shown to be important for potential therapies.” The team of researchers is also in discussion with pharmaceutical industries about translating the research. They will soon test it in preclinical versions for Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

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