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Press Release: Lab study shows - A protein called PERK may be a target for treating progressive supranuclear palsy

Munich (Germany), February 6, 2017. The brain disease “progressive supranuclear palsy” (PSP) is currently incurable and its symptoms can only be eased to a very limited degree. PSP impairs eye movements, locomotion, balance control, and speech. Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now discovered a molecular mechanism that may help in the search for effective treatments. Their study focusses on a protein called PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase). A team of researchers led by SyNergy Member Prof. Günter Höglinger reports on this in the journal „EMBO Molecular Medicine“.

06.02.2017

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Prof. Günter Höglinger. Image: private

“We found that the disease sequelae decrease when PERK is activated with pharmaceuticals. That is to say: when its effect is enhanced,” says Höglinger, member of Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) and leader of a research group at the DZNE’s Munich site. “These results are still basic research and far from being ready for use in patients. However, our investigations show that PERK is an important part of the disease mechanism. Therefore, the protein could be a starting point for the development of new drugs.”

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"Wir haben herausgefunden, dass die Krankheitssymptome zurückgehen, wenn man PERK mit Pharmaka aktiviert, also die Wirkung des Proteins verstärkt", sagt Höglinger, Mitglied bei Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) und Leiter einer Arbeitsgruppe am Standort München des DZNE. "Diese Ergebnisse sind noch Grundlagenforschung und entfernt von einer Anwendung beim Patienten. Doch unsere Untersuchungen zeigen, dass PERK ein wichtiges Element des Krankheitsmechanismus ist. Insofern könnte das Protein ein Ansatzpunkt für die Entwicklung neuer Medikamente sein."

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