Health Watch -- Research Update: Protecting Nerves

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about breakthroughs in medical research. When scientists set out to study a particular medical issue, the results aren’t always what they expect. For some researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, their results were the opposite of what they expected.

The researchers were studying processes that lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. They found that a protein that causes these conditions may also help protect against neurodegeneration when it appears in normal amounts. Dr. Thomas Südhof, the UT Southwestern neuroscientist who led the study, says he hadn’t thought this protein had any positive function in the body. Now scientists have a whole new area to study and new theories to test on how this one protein can both protect and do harm.


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January 2006

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