Via EurekAlert!: "Scientists [have] produced the first known compound to show significant effectiveness in protecting brain cells directly affected by Parkinson's disease, a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Although the findings were in animal models of the disease, the effectiveness of the compound, combined with its potential to be taken orally, offers the tantalizing possibility of a potentially useful future therapy for Parkinson's disease patients. ... The new small molecule - labeled SR-3306 - is aimed at inhibiting a class of enzymes called c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK). Pronounced 'junk,' these enzymes have been shown to play an important role in neuron (nerve cell) survival. As such, they have become a highly viable target for drugs to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease. ... The SR-3306 compound, which has been in development [for] several years, performed well in both cell culture and animal models. In cell culture, the compound showed greater than 90 percent protection against induced cell death of primary dopaminergic neurons, while in mouse models of induced neuron death, the compound showed protective levels of approximately 72 percent. The scientists went one step further, testing the new compound in a rat model, which duplicates the physical symptoms often seen with the human disease - a pronounced and progressive loss of motor skills. The results showed SR-3306 provided a protection level of approximately 30 percent in the brain, a level that reduced the dysfunctional motor responses by nearly 90 percent."