Will scientists be able to find drugs against neurodegenerative diseases in the next 10 years? Professor of Penn State College of Medicine Nikolay Dokholyan expressed his opinion about this, as well as about problems and challenges in the development of drugs against these diseases.
The research center Center for Translational Systems Research, where the professor works, is engaged in research in the treatment of two groups of diseases - oncological and neurodegenerative, such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
As he told NEWS.am Medicine, unlike cancer, neurodegenerative diseases are not treated at all - there are not even drugs that will reduce the progression of these diseases. Therefore, they present a special challenge to scientists.
We don’t even understand what is happening. With Alzheimer and ALS, the story is the same - the protein behaves incorrectly and forms a pathology. But we don’t know what exactly is happening, he said.
Units that assemble into large molecules, cells and behave pathologically, actually protect against small aggregates, compounds. These little ones kill cells. We are trying to understand what is happening. What we see - they affect many functions within the cell. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have tried to 'smash' large aggregates because they believed that they were the ones who killed the cells. But all the medicines that were created for this worsened the symptoms. Because when you destroy big ones, you get more small ones. But there are drug developments that will stop them, he added.
Asked to comment whether it is possible to hope that within 10 years it will be possible to create a cure for neurodegenerative diseases, Doholyan noted that it is difficult to say anything.
"I think that now science is moving at an accelerated pace. Not as fast as before. It usually takes about 10 years to take a small molecule and bring it to medicine. But for many states, LDNs are a priority. For example, in the US. These are very expensive diseases. A patient with Alzheimer's more than 10-20 years is non-functional. You have to pay for its content, plus the emotional impact on others. Therefore, great emphasis is placed on the rapid screening of molecules," he added.