Squirrels Might Teach Humans How to Prevent Stroke and Dementia

Squirrels Might Teach Humans How to Prevent Stroke and Dementia

Hibernating ground squirrels have an interesting metabolic process that could prevent stroke and then dementia, according to the report in the FASEB Journal.  During hibernation, the blood flow in the squirrels’ brain is dropped dramatically similar to those in humans with stroke, yet the animals emerge from hibernation fine and fresh. A team from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that a cellular process known as  SUMOylation goes into “overdrive”. SUMOylation is a process in which a small molecular tag called a Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) is attached to a protein, altering its activity and location in the cell. After screening about 4.000 molecules from an NIH chemical library to see if any of them could boost SUMOylation by blocking some enzymes, they identified two candidates: obselen and 6- thioquanine. By injecting these chemicals they keep the cell alive even under oxygen and glucose deprivation. The problem was that 6 thioquanine is a strong chemotherapy drug with serious side effects, but obselen is a good choice.  Clinical trials are coming soon.

Psychiatric News, January 19, 2018:25

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