Two of the latest studies to come out of Israel in June 2013 have given hope to sufferers of neuro-degenerative diseases and stroke victims alike, in two vividly different but successful research trials.
For those who struggle with diseases like Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s, the latest findings by Dr. Iliana Gozes, a Tel Aviv University researcher who developed a new compound called Davunetide, or NAP, found that her proprietary peptide compound solution prevented further cell damage in the brain cells of mice and that it also repaired damaged nerve cells.
In previous studies, NAP also showed positive results when it was tested on the damaged cells of patients with schizophrenia.
In the second study comparing the rehabilitative progress of stroke patients who played video games to that of patients who had traditional physical therapy, TAU occupational therapist Dr. Debbie Rand found that subjects who played video games using Xbox Kinect, Sony PlayStation. and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles benefitted from two times the number of movements per session than those in a conventional physical therapy session. The video game group also continued progressing for months beyond the group who underwent conventional physical therapy.
Cell repair for the brain
Because nerve cells exist in a “microtubule network” that not only allows proteins to pass from cell to cell, but also enables communication between cells, people impaired by neurodegenerative diseases have networks that do not function properly, which affect a person’s motor skills and brain function.
At TAU, Gozes injected study subjects with NAP, a compound solution derived from a hormone-regulating powerhouse protein called ADNP. It restored and stabilized the flow of those critical proteins to both compromised and chronically damaged cells and altered the progression of disease.
“There is no difference,” Gozes told JTNews. “NAP provides protection by restoring (or protecting) the transport system/scaffold of the nerve cell.”
In a statement to the university, Gozes said that “NAP appears to have widespread potential in terms of neuro-protection.”
The study’s results were published in the journal “Neurobiology of Disease.”
Gozes holds a “composition of matter” patent on NAP. She is a co-inventor of over 15 other patents and patent applications for Allon Therapeutics Inc., in Vancouver, B.C., where she is a co-founder and the chief scientific officer. NAP is the company’s premier compound.
To test NAP, researchers injected two sets of mice with manganese to observe its path as it travelled through the animal’s brains.
One grouping included normal mice whose microtubule system was damaged by the administration of compound substance.
The second group of mice was genetically modified to produce Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) symptoms. Their microtubule systems were chronically damaged.
Each group of mice was divided into those injected with NAP and the control group, which did not receive the NAP injection.
In the brains of mice injected with NAP, whether their cells were genetically modified for ALS or impaired by the solution, the nerve pathways were either spared further damage or were returned to a healthy state. In both groups, the mice that did not get the injections continued to experience a decline in function and degenerative symptoms.
Gozes anticipates continuing her research to see how NAP may be applied to humans in a treatment setting and to determine which patients would benefit the most from the therapy.
Game therapy — The study
Rand looked at 40 stroke patients who had the event between one and seven years prior to the study. After dividing them into two groups of 20, each group attended two sessions per week for three months — one group received traditional physical therapy, the other video game therapy.
Patients who played video games had a much greater frequency of movement, said Rand. Additionally, because the activity involved strategy, she said, the brain was also engaged to coordinate with the movement. This involvement caused the patient to concentrate less on having to perform a required activity and more on completing a “fun” task.
Rand also found the interaction between brain and body contributed to “brain plasticity,” a necessary component in the reconnection of vital brain linkages in the stroke victim.
The most striking advantage, Rand noted, was that the video game group continued its progress in grip strength for three months after the sessions ended while the other group did not show the same results.
The study was a collaboration with Sheba Medical Center and funded by a Marie Curie International Reintegration grant.
Study participants also reported that the group activity and interaction was an important part of the “fun” factor. Rand will continue studying the effects of video gaming on stroke patients by experimenting with solitary video game players.