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Prog Neurobiol. 2012 Dec;99(3):262-80. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Therapeutic approaches to preventing cell death in Huntington disease.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, Northwest Corner Building, MC4846, 550 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Neurodegenerative diseases affect the lives of millions of patients and their families. Due to the complexity of these diseases and our limited understanding of their pathogenesis, the design of therapeutic agents that can effectively treat these diseases has been challenging. Huntington disease (HD) is one of several neurological disorders with few therapeutic options. HD, like numerous other neurodegenerative diseases, involves extensive neuronal cell loss. One potential strategy to combat HD and other neurodegenerative disorders is to intervene in the execution of neuronal cell death. Inhibiting neuronal cell death pathways may slow the development of neurodegeneration. However, discovering small molecule inhibitors of neuronal cell death remains a significant challenge. Here, we review candidate therapeutic targets controlling cell death mechanisms that have been the focus of research in HD, as well as an emerging strategy that has been applied to developing small molecule inhibitors-fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD). FBDD has been successfully used in both industry and academia to identify selective and potent small molecule inhibitors, with a focus on challenging proteins that are not amenable to traditional high-throughput screening approaches. FBDD has been used to generate potent leads, pre-clinical candidates, and has led to the development of an FDA approved drug. This approach can be valuable for identifying modulators of cell-death-regulating proteins; such compounds may prove to be the key to halting the progression of HD and other neurodegenerative disorders.

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