A sophisticated new screening platform developed by scientists at Scripps Research has enabled them to discover a set of drug-like compounds, including an ingredient found in sore throat lozenges, that may powerfully protect brain cells from dangerous stresses found in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The screening platform, described in a paper in Science Advances, allows researchers for the first time to rapidly test “libraries” of thousands of molecules to find those that provide broad protection to mitochondria in neurons. Mitochondria are tiny oxygen reactors that supply cells with most of their energy. They are especially important for the health and survival of neurons. Mitochondrial damage is increasingly recognized as a major factor, and in some cases a cause, for diseases of neuronal degeneration such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS.