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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Antibiotics may 'block nerve damage'

Antibiotics 'block nerve damage'

A family of antibiotics including penicillin may help prevent nerve damage in a variety of neurological diseases, research has found.

In lab tests on mice a team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found the drugs turn on protective genes

In the brain, a chemical called glutamate normally excites nerves so that electrical signals can travel from one to the next.

But too much of the chemical can over stimulate and kill nerves, leading to disease.

Antibiotics appear to tackle the problem by triggering genes which control production of a protein called GLT1, which can transport excess glutamate away from nerve endings.

Researcher Professor Jeffrey Rothstein said: "It would be extremely premature for patients to ask for or take antibiotics on their own.

"Only a clinical trial can prove whether one of these antibiotics can help and is safe if taken for a long time."

Premature? With ALS - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) - on average, the progression from diagnosis to complete paralysis occurs in three to five years. How long should someone wait, I wonder?


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