Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In a new study, researchers have identified an enzyme that may prove helpful against many degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer's.
"This study found that NMNAT2, or nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, is a key neuronal maintenance factor," said lead researcher Hui-Chen Lu, Professor at Indiana University in the US.
"It exerts both an enzyme function to protect neurons from stress caused by over-excitation, and a 'chaperone' function, shown for the first time in this study, to combat the misfolded proteins encountered by the brain during ageing," Lu noted.
Many neurodegenerative disorders are caused by accumulation of proteins in the brain. These conditions, called proteinopathies, occur when proteins "misfold," causing them to grow "sticky" and clump up in the brain in a form often referred to as "plaques," or "tangles."
As a molecular chaperone, NMNAT2 binds to misfolded proteins to prevent or repair the errors that cause these clumps.
Common proteinopathies are Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease.
(With IANS inputs)