Ground-breaking research carried out by the University of Crete medical School Pharmacology Professor Achilleas Gravanis in Greece gives hope to sufferers of neurodegenerative diseases. The research focuses on a new types of synthetic substances called microneurotrophins to protect tissue from decline. This breakthrough research could help sufferers of ALS, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
The research is taking place at the University of Crete School of Medicine, the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH) in Iraklio, where Gravanis is working as a researcher at the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Institute and the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens. The first test results focused on the synthetic microneurotrophin BMN27 conducted on mice was published in the scientific journal of Neuropharmacology (Pediaditakis et al, 2016) in September.
Gravanis says that naturally occurring neurotrophins, large molecules, played a key role in the development and protection of brain matter from birth until the depths of old age. Their large size, however, prevented their use as medication since they could not cross the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from toxins in the environment.
“Our effort is focused on many small synthetic molecules that we call microneurotrophins that are smaller in size and, due to being quite lipophilic, are able to cross the blood brain barrier and effectively mimic the neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties of the endogenous large molecule neurotrophins. One of the substances we have synthesised is microneurotrophin BMN27,” said Gravanis.