For the first time, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that three different degenerative brain disorders are linked by a toxic form of the same protein. The protein, called Elk-1, was found in clumps of misshaped proteins that are the hallmarks of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease.
"These results suggest a molecular link between the presence of inclusions and neuronal loss that is shared across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disease," notes senior author, James Eberwine, PhD, co-director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute and Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Pharmacology. "Identifying these links within the diseased microenvironment will open up novel avenues for therapeutic intervention. For example, it is reasonable to now ask, "Is this molecule a possible new biomarker for these neurodegenerative diseases?"" says Eberwine.
Eberwine, co-first authors Anup Sharma, an MD-PhD student, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, both from Penn, Linda M. Callahan, PhD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and colleagues, report their findings this week in the online journal PLoS One.