Jul 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:53 AM EDT

Neurodegenerative Diseases: Cause Identified, Geared Towards Treatment

Mar 28, 2017 07:31 PM EDT

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Kerrie Grist looks at a real human brain being displayed as part of new exhibition at the @Bristol attraction on March 8, 2011 in Bristol, England.
(Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Axon is considered as the wiring of the nervous system and its self-destruction may lead to neurodegenerative diseases. The loss of axon halts the communication among the nerve cells leading to impaired nervous system.

According to Science Daily, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a certain molecule involved in the self-destruction of axons. Understanding the mechanism, process and progress of the damage of axons may lead to new treatment approach against neurodegenerative diseases.

The senior author of the research is Jeffrey D. Milbrandt, MD, PhD, a professor and head of the Department of Genetics. In a lot of neurodegenerative diseases, the break -down of axon is the main culprit, as stated by Milbrandt. He also added that the said class of diseases has diverse causes but all roots are directed to the self-destruction of axon.

Blocking the pathway of the self-destruction of axon can be beneficial to different kinds of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Since the molecular pathway leads to the loss of axon, pausing or halting it would prevent the gradual loss of nervous system function. The scientists have identified a molecule called SARM1 as a central player in the loss of axon.

SARM1 initiates NAD- Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide leading to the destruction of axons. The research therefore suggests that drugs that could block SARM1 could prevent axonal destruction for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. According to Neurodegeneration Research, the said diseases are incurable and debilitating resulting in progressive death of nerve cells.

Neurodegenerative diseases cause ataxia (problem in movement) and dementias (impaired mental functioning). It is an umbrella term for a range of conditions affecting neurons in the human brain including; Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Prion Disease, Motor Neuron Diseases, Huntington's Disease and a lot more. In 2012 annual report, Alzheimer's Association (AA) estimates that 5.4 million in the U.S. are suffering from the disease and by 2050; AA stated that 11 million and 16 million Americans will have the disease.

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