Breaching the barrier

Phil LoGrasso and his colleagues in the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida, have discovered a new class of compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier and might be useful leads in neurodegenerative diseases. The team has developed highly selective small molecule inhibitors of a key brain kinase c-jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK). "These are the first JNK selective inhibitors that have demonstrated an ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier," LoGrasso explains. "JNK is a good target to inhibit for diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and stroke. The compounds we developed are highly potent, plus they inhibit reactive oxygen species, one of the potential causes for neurodegenerative disease."