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Researchers Uncover New Pathway To Help Treat Perinatal Brain Injuries

Update Date: Sep 09, 2014 09:04 AM EDT

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered a new pathway to help treat perinatal brain injuries, according to a new study. The findings of the study could lead to treatments for traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

The microRNA let-7 causes the death of neurons in the central nervous system. Researchers found that a synthetic molecule derived from the embryo called Prelmplantation PreImplantation Factor (sPIF) protects against neuronal death and brain injury by targeting let-7.

"We would never have connected the dots between PIF and let-7 without prior knowledge and experience with let-7 and H19, a developmentally regulated gene that is highly expressed in the developing embryo," said senior author Yingqun Huang, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine, in the press release.

Researchers, with the help of a rat perinatal brain injury model, found that sPIF rescued damaged neurons and reduced inflammation. 

"We showed that sPIF works by destabilizing the key microRNA processing protein called KH-type splicing regulatory protein," said Huang.

"For the first time, we have clear indication to pursue a new line of investigation in the treatment of perinatal brain injury, and possibly traumatic brain injury," said co-author Michael Paidas, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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