Neurobiological Technologies and the Buck Institute for Age Research formed a partnership to develop a drug to treat Huntington's disease (HD). The research involves fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), a naturally occurring protein that reportedly has neuroprotective properties. Buck scientists will now seek to create a form of FGF-2 that can be moved into clinical trials.
Researchers at the Buck have used FGF-2, in both cell-based and animal models of HD. They report that after being treated with FGF-2, mice with HD showed a 150% increase in new nerve cells, compared to a 30% increase in non-HD mice. Treatment with FGF-2 extended the lifespan of the affected mice by 20%, the Buck team adds. The animals also exhibited improved motor performance, decreased cell death, and a reduction in the amount of toxic aggregates that typically form in the brains of those affected by HD.
“The fact that FGF-2 has such dramatic effects specifically in HD models and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier shows exciting promise as potential new therapy for HD,” remarks Remy Gross, Buck Institute director of business development.