Science

Snake venom helps researchers find way to potentially prevent Parkinsons, Alzheimer’s



BENGALURU: A new study has shown how researchers studying snake venom found ways of potentially impacting future therapeutic applications for preventing and treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Researchers from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST) have designed two peptides (short chains of amino acids) inspired from snake venom neurotrophin (proteins that regulate development, maintenance, and function of vertebrate nervous systems) molecules which hold promise for preventing and treating neurological disorders such as PD and AD.
The study was carried out by a team from IASST-Guwahati, an institute of the department of science and technology (DST). That medications or effective therapeutics are still lacking to stop, slow, or prevent PD and AD — some of the most common neurodegenerative disorders — has stimulated exploration of hypotheses about molecular and cellular processes that lead to neurodegeneration.
“Prof Ashis Kumar Mukherjee, director, IASST, and his team have worked on the snake venom and found it to be a treasure house of drug prototypes for various biomedical applications. They can be moulded into candidate life saving drug prototypes, like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and covid-19. They found prospects in the nerve growth factor from snake venom, a minor component of the venom characterised by Mukherjee and his group,” DST said.
“It possesses neurogenesis properties (triggering sprouting of neurites from a cell) by binding to the Tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) receptor, the high-affinity nerve growth factor receptor of rat pheochromocytoma PC-12 cells. However, drug development from a native toxin of snake venom is tedious,” DST said.
To overcome this problem, Mukherjee and his collaborators have developed two novel custom peptides (commercially produced peptides for use in biomedical laboratories) — TNP and HNP — inspired by snake venom neurotrophin.
“These peptides show selective binding to the human TrkA receptor of nerve cells and hence can improve the selectivity and specificity of drug molecules toward the receptor, thereby enhancing the therapeutic potency of those drug molecules. Mukherjee emphasises that the low molecular weight, structural stability, small size, and target sensitivity of the peptides make them powerful tools for conquering the limitations of using endogenous neurotrophins as therapeutic agents,” DST added.
This drug-like peptide, DST said, can potentially reduce the progression of neurodegenerative diseases before they advance through an entirely new strategy. The treatment would be most effective for people with fewer symptoms at the early onset of the disease.
“Their study will be further extended from Parkinson’s model to other neurodegenerative diseases and require pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics studies to develop safe drug prototypes. The investigators have filed an Indian patent, and the study was recently published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine (Elsevier),” DST added.





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