I always start my day reading the most recent research articles on Parkinson’s disease and today for some reason, I was enlightened when reading about the discovery of a new survival protein that protects the brain against the effects of stroke. This particular protein (no doubt a good protein) protects by interfering with a kind of brain cell death that is often present in Parkinson’s disease.
I was drawn to this research because of it’s positive bearing it could have on Parkinson’s disease, but also because I have witnessed the effects that a stroke can have on an individuals life, and like Parkinson’s disease, a stroke forever changes the lives of it’s victims. The presence of this protein in the research models provided protection to brain cells – and I can get really excited over anything related to protecting brain cells.
I have met a few medical researchers and I think these folks are so interesting! I sometimes wonder how they continue their work day after day when so many results are inconclusive. How do they stay motivated? How do they measure success when it seems to come in such small steps? Obviously a statement by someone who loves instant gratification!
The brilliant researcher who discovered the survival protein must have a sense of humor and a sense of imagination because she has used the phrase “apparently, what does not kill you, makes you stronger” to describe the protein discovery. She also named her discovery the Iduna Protein, after a mythological Norwegian goddess who guards a tree full of golden apples used in restoring health to sick and injured gods. Perhaps humor and imagination are secrets of success, at least for this team of researchers!
How I hope this important discovery can be used to help those with PD and patients who are at risk of strokes. She gave this protein a personality and I like that. Many would believe that a protein of this name to be very special. How many proteins can you name? I have a feeling we will remember Iduna for a very long time! You can learn more about the research of Valina Dawson, professor of neurology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering and this important medical research below.
I was very interested in learning more about Iduna, Lady of the Orchard, the mythological goddess who guards that tree of golden apples, and who is said to restore the health to the sick and injured gods. To learn more about Iduna you may visit Iduna, Lady of the Orchard. She has an entire website dedicated to her, and the artwork used in this post is from this site. To see more by artist Sara Cloutier click on the artist name. pkp
’Survival protein’ can help treat neuro-disorders
A newly discovered “survival protein” protects the brain against the effects of stroke by interfering with a particular kind of brain cell death that is often found in cases of Parkinson’s disease and heart attack.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins University in the US say they exploited the fact that when brain tissue is subjected to a stressful but not lethal effect, a defence response occurs that protects cells from subsequent effects.
The scientists dissected this preconditioning pathway to identify the most critical molecular players, one of which is the newly identified protein protector called Iduna, reports the journal Nature Medicine.
Named for a mythological Norwegian goddess who guards a tree full of golden apples used in restoring health to sick and injured gods, the Iduna protein increased three-to four-fold in preconditioned mouse brain tissue, according to the scientists.
“Apparently, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” says Valina Dawson, professor of neurology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering.
“This protective response was broad in its defence of neurons and glia and blood vessels – the entire brain. It’s not just a delay of death, but real protection that lasts for about 72 hours,” adds Dawson, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.
The team noted that Iduna works by interrupting a cascade of molecular events that result in a common and widespread type of brain cell death called parthanatos often found in cases of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and heart attack.
By binding with a molecule known as PAR polymer, Iduna prevents the movement of cell-death-inducing factor (AIF) into a cell’s nucleus.
In some of the experiments, Dawson and her team exposed mouse brain cells to short bursts of a toxic chemical, and then screened these “preconditioned” cells for genes that turned on as a result.
Focusing on Iduna, the researchers turned up the gene’s activity in the cells during exposure to the toxic chemical that induced preconditioning.
Cells deficient in Iduna did not survive, but those with more Iduna did.