• Kyodo

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A Japanese team will begin research on the development of a new drug treatment for the incurable Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease based on a curative for a different ailment, according to research team members.

The team, which features Nagasaki University professor Shigeru Katamine, will conduct its research as part of a program on advanced medical technology development under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

Members said they will have around 260 million yen to develop a new drug for the brain-wasting illness over a three-year period beginning in the current fiscal year.

CJD is a rare, fatal brain disorder characterized by progressive dementia and gradual loss of muscle control. It typically leads to death in one or two years.

Members said their research will focus on the use of pentosan, a drug for bladder inflammation that has been confirmed during animal experiments to suppress abnormal prions when injected directly into the brain.

CJD is believed to occur after infectious abnormal prion proteins accumulate in the brain and damage brain cells.

Pentosan — referring to a hemicellulose found in cereal, straw and other woody plants — is normally too big to enter the brain from blood vessels.

Team members aim to make the pentosan smaller without compromising its medicinal properties and have it produce the same effect on the brain even if administered orally.

According to the members, they will conduct clinical tests on CJD patients within two years.

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