December 17, 2010
By JASON ROBERSON
The Dallas Morning News
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University said Thursday they have partnered to develop treatments for Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.
The schools negotiated an exclusive license with Dallas-based start-up EncephRX to work with a specific set of chemical compounds.
The compounds, called benzoxazines, were first tested in neurons derived from rodent brains. By further isolating structures within those compounds, researchers identified small molecules that protected nerve cells against damage.
The compounds have the potential of slowing or stopping the relentless loss of brain cells in neurodegenerative diseases, said Dr. Santosh D'Mello, professor of molecular and cell biology at UTD.
"These are very promising early signs of therapeutic potential in people," D'Mello said.
James Quick, associate vice president for research at SMU, said he's hopeful the venture will be successful, but it's too soon to get overly excited.
"The actual number of compounds that eventually get FDA approval is a very low percentage," Quick said. "One doesn't want to get wildly optimistic, but we are optimistic."
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