In a Nature article from two weeks agp, Rothstein et al. demonstrate how standard, penicillin-like antibiotics are able to prevent excitotoxic glutamate damage by upregulating glutamate re-uptake transporters. They found the antibiotic treatment effective in animal models of ALS (Lou Gerig’s disease) and stroke-induced ischemic shock; of course, the potential (but yet unproven) benefits of this drug could be much greater — any excitotoxicity-related disease, including spinal cord injury, could be aided by increased glutamate clearance from the extracellular medium.
What’s even neater is how they did it: A blind screen of 1,000 already FDA-approved drugs. Very smart. This is a peek at the kind of power possible with automated assays, like the immunoblotting-densitometry combination used in this work.
A very good summary can be found in this week’s Science.