Posts Tagged “autism”
Israeli scientists are suggesting that an experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease may help children with autism, according to an extensive study published last month in the academic journal Translational Psychiatry.
The study was led by Professor Illana Gozes of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at Tel Aviv University and included researchers from Tel Aviv University, the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital, and research institutions across Europe (the biotechnology institute BIOCEV in the Czech Republic, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, the University of Antwerp in Belgium, and the University Hospital Centre in Zagreb, Croatia).
This article was originally posted by NoCamels.com
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Prof. Gozes is a leading neuroscientist and an expert in the field of tauopathy (one of the leading pathologies in Alzheimer’s disease), a pathology characterized by deposition of the protein Tau in the brain. It is found in neurodegenerative diseases, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease.
The study in question looked at protein deposits found in the postmortem brain of a seven-year-old child with autism from Croatia. The child had ADNP syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum characterized by intellectual disability, and impaired communication and social interaction. The syndrome causes a deficiency or malfunctioning of the ADNP protein, which is essential for brain development.
Twenty years ago, the activity-dependent neuroprotective protein ADNP was discovered and characterized in the laboratory of Prof. Gozes. She and her team learned that ADNP is vital for brain formation and presents one of the leading mutated genes that cause ADNP syndrome, a condition within the autism spectrum. Prof. Gozes also linked ADNP to Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
“ADNP protects against electrical blockades and we need the electricity in order for our brain to function. We realized it might be a very important protein and when we [took it out] of animals, there was no brain. So it is essential for the formation of the brain,” Prof. Gozes tells NoCamels.
It was only after the ADNP protein was created that researchers realized that autism could be determined by genetics. That was when they discovered that if a child is born with one mutation in a very critical gene, it can cause autism.
“When ADNP syndrome was discovered some six years ago,” Prof. Gozes says, “suddenly, ADNP became a leading gene to cause the de novo mutation [genetic alteration] which is found in children within the autism spectrum.”
Upon examining the brain of this seven-year-old child and comparing it to the brain of a 31-year-old adult with no preexisting conditions, the researchers found deposits of the tau protein in the child’s brain tissues.
“When we compared the postmortem ADNP syndrome brain tissues to tissue from the brain of a young person without ADNP syndrome, we found deposits of the tau protein in the ADNP child, a pathology that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease,” Prof. Gozes explained in a Tel Aviv University statement.
This article was originally sourced by NoCamels.com. The cannabis plant is one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops and its use as medicine goes back nearly 5,000 years in civilizations throughout China, India, and the Middle East.
Nowadays, cannabis continues to be used for a wide range of medicinal purposes. CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant, is believed to comprise anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and painkilling properties and its benefits including believing insomnia, anxiety, and nausea, and treating symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and autism in children
The disorder occurs when tissue that normally lines the uterus – the endometrium – begins to grow outside the organ. The displaced tissue becomes trapped inside the body, as it reacts as it should by thickening and then bleeding but, unlike in the uterus, it has no way out. This causes a build-up of scar tissue and adhesions which bring on a variety of symptoms, including painful menstruation and intercourse, excessive bleeding, and can even lead to infertility.
The new research into the use of cannabis to treat endometriosis is led by Jerusalem-based startup Gynica, a medical company licensed by the Israeli Health Ministry to develop cannabis-based products for the female body, in cooperation with Lumir Lab, the first and only licensed facility to research cannabis as it relates to women’s health. It is based at the Jerusalem Biotechnology Park at Hebrew University.
Gynica says current treatments for endometriosis – with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs – are often insufficient, as they only target the pain, not prevent it.
“Today, the ways to treat endometriosis are either surgery or medications, such as a pill that suppresses the secretion the hormones or pain-killers. Cannabis is a very different mechanism. It has several compounds that can treat multiple symptoms of the disease,” Dr. Sari Sagiv, VP of Research and Development at Gynica, tells NoCamels.
Gynica’s research in a pre-clinical study focuses on how endometriosis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, the natural cannabis-like molecules produced by the human body. This system is involved “in a wide variety of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function,” according to a series of short articles on UCLA Health.
Gynica references the British Journal of Pharmacology to note that, after the brain, the female reproductive system is the organ with the most endocannabinoid receptors, and notes that it believes “cannabinoids are the missing piece in the treatment of gynecological disorders.”
Gynica’s R&D team maintains that endometriosis is linked to a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system and that cannabinoid-based treatments may offer a new and improved solution for women who suffer from the condition.
The pre-clinical study is led by Professor Lumir Ondrej Hanus, the world-renown chemist who in 1992 isolated the first known endocannabinoid in the human brain, and for whom Lumir Lab is named. The study, Gynica says, has shown “promising results.”
A clinical trial, slated for 2020, will be led by Gynica’s principal investigator and global leading endometriosis specialist Dr. Yuval Kaufman.
Dr. Sagiv, who will run R&D on the trial, says she expects to have a validated product sometimes over the next year, with efforts currently directed towards discovering the optimal strain of cannabis for treating endometriosis. The research is supervised by Professor Moshe Hod, a world-recognized expert in the field of women’s health, president of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine (EAPM), and professor of Gynecology at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Medicine.
“Endometriosis is a complex disease – to simply say ‘cannabis treats it’ is not enough,” she says. Gynica must find and understand the perfect combination and mixture of cannabis compounds. Once the optimal combination is found, Dr. Sagiv says a product will be released in several forms, including creams and patches.