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WesternU researchers study potential treatments for neurological disorders

by Rodney Tanaka

July 5, 2020

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Western University of Health Sciences Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences Professor Michel Baudry, PhD, and his team published a paper in Science Advances on July 1, 2020.

The authors of the paper, “Calpain-2 as a therapeutic target in repeated concussion-induced neuropathy and behavioral impairment,” are Yubin Wang, Yan Liu, Amy Nham, Arash Sherbaf, Diana Quach, Emad Yahya, Davis Ranburger, Xiaoning Bi and Michel Baudry. Dr. Yubin is a Research Assistant Professor in the GCBS and has been instrumental in leading this effort in the laboratory. Dr. Xiaoning Bi is a Professor in COMP and has been collaborating with Dr. Baudry over the last 20 years.

Six Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences students contributed to the work and were included as co-authors on the manuscript.

This manuscript reports results from recent studies in the Baudry lab focusing on developing selective calpain-2 inhibitors for the treatment of neurological disorders associated with neurodegeneration. In this paper, the team used a mouse model of repeated concussions that reproduces the majority of the symptoms present in football players, including tau hyperphosphorylation and cognitive impairment. It also reproduces a pathological feature found in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Fronto-Temporal Dementia (FTD), which consists in the abnormal localization and accumulation of the protein TDP-43 in the cytoplasm. All the symptoms were prevented by either genetic calpain-2 deletion or treatment with a selective calpain-2 inhibitor. The paper concludes that a selective calpain-2 inhibitor could be used as a therapeutic drug to protect the brain against the negative consequences of repeated concussions. The Baudry’s team current goal is to initiate clinical trials with a selective calpain-2 inhibitor in July 2022 for the treatment of concussion.

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