Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Plant-derived scavengers prowl the body for nerve toxins

 

Tsafrir Mor is a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

From the November 23, 2010 Eureka news alert

 

The brain is forever chattering to itself, via electrical impulses sent along its hard-wired neuronal “Ethernet.” These e-messages are translated into chemical transmissions, allowing communication across the narrow cleft separating one neuron from another or between neurons and their target cells. Of the many kinds of molecules involved in this lively chemical symposium, acetylcholine is among the most critical, performing a host of functions in the central and peripheral nervous system. This delicate cholinergic design however is highly vulnerable. It can fall victim to inadvertent or deliberate poisoning by a class of compounds known as organophosphates—chemicals found in a range of pesticides as well as weaponized nerve agents.

Now Tsafrir Mor, a biochemist in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has shown that human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a so-called bioscavenging molecule, can be produced synthetically—from plants. Further, Mor and his colleagues have demonstrated the effectiveness of plant-derived BChE in protecting against both pesticide and nerve agent organophosphate poisoning.

The group’s research, recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), shows promise not only for protecting the nervous system from the effects of organophosphates, but also for gaining a firmer understanding of acetylcholine-linked diseases such as Alzheimer’s Dementia and possibly for use against drug overdose and addiction, particularly cocaine. PNAS has selected the important paper as an Editor’s Choice…

Transgenic tobacco plant is used to produced human butyrylcholinesterase — a bioscavenger that helps clear acetylcholine from the nervous system.

 

….

This work was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health CounterACT Program through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke under a consortium grant awarded to US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense and contracted to Dr. Mor under a research cooperative agreement. It is a continuation of earlier work originally under support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In addition to Dr. Mor’s appointment with the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University he is a professor in the School of Life Sciences.

*Geyer BC, *Kannan L, *Garnaud PE, Broomfield CA, Cadieux CL, *Cherni I, Hodgins SM, Kasten SA, *Kelley K, *Kilbourne J, Oliver ZP, Otto TC, *Puffenberger I, Reeves TE, *Robbins N, 2nd, *Woods RR, Soreq H, Lenz DE, Cerasoli DM, *Mor TS (2010) Plant-derived human butyrylcholinesterase, but not an organophosphorous-compound hydrolyzing variant thereof, protects rodents against nerve agents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, in press (available online at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/11/05/1009021107) .

 

 

 

November 24, 2010 - Posted by | Health News Items | , , , ,

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