A group of scientists at the National Brain Research Centre in Manesar, Haryana, and the Bose Institute, Kolkata, has shown that a compound extracted from neem seeds can reverse behavioural changes and extend the lifespan of mice genetically engineered to display features of Huntington’s disease (HD), a fatal degenerative brain disorder in humans.
The compound called azadiradione shows promise as a therapeutic molecule to delay the progression of HD, a disorder that impairs patients’ abilities to think, speak and walk.
The compound activates an enzyme that helps degrade the accumulated mutant protein and it activates a protein that helps restore normal protein balance in brain cells.
Medicine at present has no treatment to stop or reverse the progression of HD – an inherited gene-linked illness marked by the build-up of a mutant protein and the disruption of normal protein balance in brain cells.
The scientists are now hoping to explore the effects of azadiradione on other degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, which also involve the accumulation of mutant misfolded proteins.