Neuronal death is behind Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and the sudden loss of motor function in patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Attempts to understand these and other neurodegenerative disorders have been complicated by their varying times of onset and clinical courses. Might the loss of neurons in all of these diseases follow a common principle? Or does the neuronal death in each have its own rules and regulations?
This week (Nature, Vol. 406, Issue 6792, July 13, 2000) Roderick R. McInnes of The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, Ontario, and colleagues provide experimental evidence to support a common, 'one-hit' model of cell death in neurodegenerative diseases that has implications for treatment strategies. Their findings argue against the cumulative-damage hypothesis, indicating instead that the time of death of any neuron is random.
"These results are certain to stimulate much debate and experimentation, aimed both at identifying common mechanisms of neurodegeneration and at developing common ways of intervening in these tragic diseases", says Nathaniel Heintz of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Rockefeller University, New York, in an accompanying News and Views article.
Roderick R McInnes tel +1 416 813 6383, fax +1 416 813 4931,
Nathaniel Heintz tel +1 212 327 7956, fax +1 212 327 7878,
(C) Nature press release.
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