North West | Technology & innovation

Researchers work on drug to counter dementia

27 Jan '20
Russian scientists at the Kant Baltic Federal University in Russias westernmost enclave of Kaliningrad and at the Kemerovo State University in Siberia have developed and tested the composition of capsules to carry into the human body an enzyme required for phenylketonuria treatment. The results of the research which may help develop a drug candidate to fight the dangerous hereditary disease have been published in English in Heliyon.

Phenylketonuria is a hereditary genetic disorder, in which theres very little or no activity from phenylalanine-4-hydroxylase, a liver enzyme that is responsible for the cleavage of phenylalanine, an amino acid we receive with protein foods.

An excessively high level of phenylalanine may lead to major central nervous system afflictions.

Of all therapies known today, the use of enzyme replacement therapy with L-phenylalanine-ammonium-lyase (PAL) is considered the most promising. The enzyme cleaves phenylalanine into safer products. However, the approach is tremendously difficult in actual therapeutic techniques as PAL gets very unstable in the body as soon as it reaches the acidic environment of the stomach. Researchers across countries have been working to develop a durable capsule for the enzyme.

The above team of Russians appears to have succeeded. The scientists have come up with an effective encapsulated form of PAL based on vegetal polysaccharides.
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Locations: Kaliningrad; Kemerovo

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