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Snake venom may help prevent Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

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Bengaluru: Soon, snake venom could help treat neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, have designed two peptides inspired by non-toxic proteins present in snake venom.

Peptides are short chains of amino acids, commercially produced for use in biomedical laboratories. That medications or effective therapeutics are still lacking to stop, slow, or prevent both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s has triggered exploration of the hypotheses about molecular and cellular processes that lead to neurodegeneration.

Prof Ashis Kumar Mukherjee, director of IASST, and his team have worked on the snake venom and found it to be a treasure house of drug prototypes for various biomedical applications. “They found the prospects for nerve growth in a minor component of the venom,” said department of science and technology in a press release. They can be moulded into candidate life saving drug prototypes for diseases like cancer, Covid-19 or cardiovascular ailments.

Snake venom possesses neurogenesis properties that can trigger sprouting of neurites (projections that develop to form neuronal circuits) from a nerve cell. “However, drug development from a native toxin of snake venom is tedious,” the statement said. To overcome this problem, Mukherjee and his collaborators have developed two novel custom peptides — TNP and HNP — inspired by neurotrophin, one of the several proteins present in snake venom. Mukherjee emphasises that the low molecular weight, structural stability, small size, and target sensitivity of the peptides make them powerful tools for conquering the limitations of using endogenous neurotrophins as therapeutic agents. These drug-like peptides can potentially reduce the progression of neurodegenerative diseases before they advance through an entirely new strategy. The treatment would be most effective for people with fewer symptoms at the early onset of the disease.

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