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Edward R. Biehl, co-discoverer of the HSB-13 compound  (Source:
HSB-13 compound could halt diseases like Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's

Southern Methodist University (SMU) and University of Texas at Dallas researchers have found hope for those suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's through the discovery of a group of molecules which could help protect the brain.

Edward R. Biehl, study leader and a synthetic organic chemist at SMU, and Santosh R. D'Mello, co-author of the study and a biology professor at UT Dallas, have developed the compounds in an effort to halt the onset of nerve-degenerative diseases and relieve symptoms. 

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and and Huntington's are neurodegenerative diseases in the central nervous system, and afflict more than five million Americans (mainly senior citizens). These diseases are caused by the immoderate loss of neurons in an area of the mid-brain, which leads to a decline in motor skills, such as walking and speaking, as well as memory loss and behavior problems. 

Previous treatments cannot halt or reverse these types of nerve-degenerative diseases. They only relieve symptoms, and sometimes even fail at that due to the severe side effects of these medications. 

But now, Biehl and D'Mello have worked together to develop compounds that could potentially protect the brain from nerve-degenerative diseases. They came upon this discovery when developing synthetic chemicals that contained a class of heterocyclic organic compounds. One particular compound in the heterocyclic class proved to be protective of neurons in tissue culture models. Furthermore, this same compound, named HSB-13, has also proven to be effective in fighting neurodegenerative diseases in animal models. 

"Our compounds protect against neurodegeneration in mice," said Biehl. "Given successful development of the compounds into drug therapies, they would serve as an effective treatment for patients with degenerative brain diseases."

HSB-13 not only decreased degeneration in the forebrain, but also corrected behavioral problems. It has also proved to be nontoxic while remaining "extremely potent."

Biotechnology and therapeutics company EncephRx, which is based in Dallas, is looking to create drug therapies based on this new class of compounds. The company was granted worldwide license to the "jointly owned compounds," and when the research is complete, EncephRx's pharmaceuticals made of these small compounds will be the first therapeutic tools capable of protecting brain cells and keeping them from dying. 

"Additional research needs to be done, but these compounds have the potential for stopping or slowing the relentless loss of brain cells in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," said D'Mello. "The protective effect that they display in tissue culture and animal models of neurodegenerative disease provides strong evidence of their promise as drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders."

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By RivuxGamma on 12/8/2010 12:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it's a term used in The Lawnmower Man, but they're real. Stuff similar to this already exists like piracetam and others like it.

They can even protect from severe brain damage by drugs or even electric shock. Granted, that's something hard to anticipate unless you're going to the electric chair soon, or something like that, but it's possible.

RE: Nootropics
By MrBlastman on 12/8/2010 1:18:23 PM , Rating: 2
Nootropics work through an entirely different mechanism than this compound potentially. Nootropics, while having been around for years, alter the neurochemical structure, stimulate nerve growth or provide cognitive enhancements.

This compound here does none of that--from what I read it stops the destructive mechanisms in their tracks.

RE: Nootropics
By geddarkstorm on 12/8/2010 1:33:15 PM , Rating: 2
Nootropics like piracetam are very fascinating. They are indeed a highly different mechanism, seemingly mediated by changing the membrane fluidity of neurons, and thus their action potential parameters (piracetam does not affect neural transmitter balance, which is a very important feature for safety and what distinguishes it from drugs). Somehow, this also upregulates neurogenesis, which is where the cognitive enhancements may stem (along with the better synchrony of ECG waves and hemisphere communication).

But yes, just like you say, they can't stop these diseases; they are meant for healthy individuals. They may lower the chance to acquire, but once it's there the nootropics can only slightly (maybe) decrease severity of symptoms but not alter the cause. That's what makes this new compound so exciting--and it'll likely not affect cognitive functions and IQ in healthy individuals.

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