Estrogen Found to Protect Brain Cells
DataMonitor Healthcare Newswire - October 10, 2003
Researchers from the University of North
Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and the
University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute collaborated
to discover a critical form estrogen takes that enables
it to protect brain cells.
"We discovered a major mechanism by which estrogen
protects nerve cells," said Dr James Simpkins,
director of UNTHSC's Institute for Aging and Alzheimer's
disease Research, in a statement to the press. "We
now know how estrogen keeps brain cells alive even
when exposed to an insult like stroke, Alzheimer's
disease or Parkinson's disease."
If a compound can retain estrogen's protective benefits
and reduce the side effects because the estrogen is
produced in a controlled fashion in the body, it could
change the way strokes, heart attacks, and chronic
conditions such as Alzheimer's disease are treated,
he said. "Essentially, patients will be able
take advantage of the good effects of estrogen while
minimizing the bad effects."
Dr Simpkins' lab in Fort Worth has already begun evaluating
compounds based on this discovery. Production of such
a drug will require several years of additional experimentation
and clinical testing, he said.
In terms of therapies, the scientists believe administering
the newly discovered compound will deliver the protective
benefits of estrogen, because the body will naturally
convert it to estrogen, while potential side effects
often associated with direct estrogen therapy may
remain in check. The research team is also examining
the compound's use as a viable alternative to hormone
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