Small steps towards treatment of brain disorders

The brain: The green shows the cells that Professor Butt and colleagues are trying to regenerate, the red shows the myelin (the insulating layer that allows electrical signals to be transmitted instantly through the brain), and in blue are the nuclei of all cells in the brain.

The brain: The green shows the cells that Professor Butt and colleagues are trying to regenerate, the red shows the myelin (the insulating layer that allows electrical signals to be transmitted instantly through the brain), and in blue are the nuclei of all cells in the brain.

Researchers have made some small but significant steps towards the treatment of degenerative brain disorders with the discovery of drugs that could be developed to rejuvenate and repair the ageing brain.

The research was conducted by a team of researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Zurich and Lyon.

The study found a new method to identify drugs that could be important in brain disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis.

Co-author Professor Arthur Butt, from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said: “There is a major research drive to find new treatments aimed at rejuvenating the ageing brain and repairing the brain after damage to myelin – an insulating material that, when it’s worn away or damaged, decreases nerve function.

“This study is a promising step in the right direction and we are hopeful that these first steps will lead to something useful in the future.

“At the very least, we now have a list of drugs that we can use to begin to unlock some of the underlying changes in the ageing brain and in regeneration.”

The research provides new insights into the mechanisms of neural development and repair, which can be exploited to develop new strategies for treatment. It also identifies new drugs – already approved for clinical use – whose therapeutic potential for brain injury repair can now be explored.

Professor Butt’s research is funded by the MS Society and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). He has now begun testing some of these drugs at the University of Portsmouth as part of a new project funded by the MS Society.

The paper was published yesterday in the open access journal PLOS Biology.

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