Friday, October 28, 2016
Researchers Take First Steps Toward A Preventative Alzheimer's Pill: VIDEO
A preventative Alzheimer’s pill is the ideal end game for researchers studying the disease from many angles. While we’re not yet close to the goal, new research shows a way that it may be possible, using an approach similar to what has worked for managing other chronic conditions.
Scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine targeted ways of reducing the amount of toxic proteins that accumulate over years in the brains of those who subsequently develop Alzheimer’s. In a study published in the journal Neuron, the scientists report success in preventing the accumulation of these proteins, and the pathology they cause, in animal models.
“Common diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain,” said senior study author Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of molecular and human genetics and of pediatrics-neurology and developmental neuroscience at Baylor. “Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”
The research is a shift in focus, as most Alzheimer’s studies have concentrated on the later stages of the disease. But in the last several mounting evidence has pointed to Alzheimer’s developing over the course of decades, which opens the possibility of slowing its progression before irreversible damage is done to a patient’s brain later in life.
The researchers focused on a group of enzymes, called kinases, which human cells use naturally to regulate their protein levels. By inhibiting the enzymes, the team was able to tell which ones triggered reduced levels of tau protein. One such enzyme was identified: Nuak1.
“We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of tau in both human cells and fruit flies,” said Zoghbi in a press statement about the study. “Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behavior of the mice and prevented brain degeneration.”
Potentially, inhibiting the Nuak1 enzyme could become a target for medicines aimed at regulating tau protein, not unlike how statins regulate cholesterol.
“When people started taking drugs that lower cholesterol, they lived longer and healthier lives rather than dying earlier of heart disease,” added Zoghbi. “Nobody has thought about Alzheimer’s disease in that light. Tau in Alzheimer’s can be compared to cholesterol in heart disease. Tau is a protein that when it accumulates as the person ages, increases the vulnerability of the brain to developing Alzheimer’s. So maybe if we can find drugs that can keep at levels that are not toxic the brain, then we would be able to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s and other diseases caused in part by toxic tau accumulation.”
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by FORBES
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length