Register for updates

 
 

Medicine & Health
RSS Feed
Food Supplement May Be Key to Treatment of Rare Disease
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Familial Dysautonomia may be slowed by phosphatidylserine, TAU researchers say

A new Tel Aviv University study finds that a popular food supplement called phosphatidylserine may be instrumental in reversing the detrimental effects of Familial Dysautonomia (FD), a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that affects approximately 1 in 31 Jewish people of Eastern European, or Ashkenazi, ancestry. FD affects aspects of the autonomic nervous system such as swallowing, sweating, and pain sensitivity, and places patients at increased risk for pulmonary and gastrointestinal complications.

The research, led jointly by Prof. Gil Ast and Prof. Eran Perlson of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine, generated a mouse model of FD to examine the neuron degeneration caused by FD and to observe the positive effects of the novel therapy. The study was published in PLOS Genetics.

Trucks, highways, and neurons

"Neurons are the longest cells in our body," said Prof. Ast. "'Highways' along our neurons allow 'trucks' with 'cargo' to supply our neurons with essential supplies. In most neurodegenerative diseases these highways — called microtubules — and the axonal transport process are impaired. Our study demonstrates that alterations in the stability of microtubules and disruptions in the transport may lead to FD."

The research team, including Shiran Naftelberg-Blonder and other TAU students, generated a mouse model of FD. The mice exhibited symptoms similar to those experienced by human patients with FD, including developmental delays, sensory abnormalities, unstable microtubules, and impairment of axonal retrograde transport of nerve growth factor.

"We found that in neurons from our FD mice, the microtubular highways were impaired by elevated levels of an enzyme called HDAC6," said Prof. Ast. "This impairment removed the adhesive that connects the 'bricks' of the highway. This led to less stabilized highways and to the slower movement of cargo along it."

Once the mouse exhibiting FD symptoms was generated, the researchers administered a phosphatidylserine treatment, which lowered the level of the enzyme that removed the "glue" from the "bricks" of the microtubular highways. Phosphatidylserine contains both amino acids and fatty acids and is known to be effective in slowing down long-term memory loss.

Finding a "path" to treatment

The researchers found that the treatment with phosphatidylserine enhanced the stability of the microtubular "highways" and improved the movement of "cargo" along these pathways. "We identified the molecular pathway that leads to neurodegeneration in FD and demonstrated that phosphatidylserine has the potential to slow progression of neurodegeneration," said Prof. Ast.

"Phosphatidylserine can repair the activity in neurons from the FD mouse by reducing the amount of the enzyme that removes the 'glue' from the 'bricks,'" Prof. Ast continued. "This elevates the stability of the 'highways' and increases essential cargo movement along these neurological pathways."

The researchers are currently researching ways of improving the delivery of phosphatidylserine to the nervous system. Teva Pharmaceuticals contributed support for this research through the National Network of Excellence.




Latest News

Zuckerman Scholar Launches State-of-the-Art Laser Laboratory at TAU

Dr. Ishay Pomerantz hopes to lower the cost and size of particle accelerators for more practical social applications.

The Brain Mechanism Behind Multitasking

The brief reactivation of a learned memory can block interference from competing tasks, TAU researchers say.

DNA Delivery Technology Joins Battle Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria

New tool is major milestone against lethal condition, TAU researchers say.

Cardiac Stem Cells from Heart Disease Patients May Be Harmful

TAU researchers discover molecular pathway involved in toxic interaction between host cells and immune system.

Multispectral Imaging Reveals Ancient Hebrew Inscription Undetected for Over 50 Years

Military correspondence from the First Temple period discovered on reverse side of well-studied artifact at The Israel Museum, TAU researchers say.

Earliest Human Impact on the Environment Took Place 11,500 Years Ago

The earliest geological indication of humans' impact on the environment discovered in the Dead Sea, TAU researchers say.

IDEAS Immersion Program to Host Nine Female Entrepreneurs from TAU

Acceleration program partners with Cross Campus and Google to help budding women entrepreneurs incubate startups.

Prof. Jacob A. Frenkel Elected to Second Term as Chairman of TAU's Board of Governors

Internationally-acclaimed economist will continue to "greatly contribute to the further development of Tel Aviv University," said TAU President Prof. Yossi Klafter.

Solving the Riddle of the Snow Globe

TAU research explains the process of sedimentation in natural and industrial contexts.

TAU Bestows Honorary Doctorate on Pouran Toufer Nazarian

University's highest honor recognizes Iranian philanthropist and visionary.

A Glow Stick That Detects Cancer?

TAU researchers devise a novel probe to identify and measure microscopic cell activity.

TAU Study Links Cannabis Use in Adolescence to Schizophrenia

Psychoactive compound in cannabis may trigger the brain disorder, researchers say.

Violent Attacks Against Jews Declined 12% in 2016, But Anti-Semitic Hate Speech Spiked

U.S. college campuses saw a 45% rise in anti-Semitism of all forms, annual TAU Kantor Center study reports.

Israeli Student Film Sets Guinness World Record

Lior Geller's Roads noted for most awards won by a short student film.

contentSecondary
c

© 2017 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University