In a new study, researchers have made a big breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
They found two short peptides, or strings of amino acids, that when injected into mice with Alzheimer’s disease daily for five weeks, significantly improved the mice’s memory.
The treatment also reduced some of the harmful physical changes in the brain that are associated with the disease.
The finding is two years after they discovered a way to neutralize a rogue protein linked to the disease.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Alberta.
This discovery builds on previous findings of a compound called AC253 that can block the toxic effects of a protein called amyloid-beta, which is believed to be a major contributor to Alzheimer’s because it is often found in large quantities in the brains of patients with the disease.
AC253 blocks amyloid beta from attaching to certain receptors in brain cells—a process Jhamandas likens to plugging a keyhole.
However, while AC253 was shown to prevent a buildup of amyloid-beta, it isn’t very effective at reaching the brain and is quickly metabolized in the bloodstream.
As a result, treatment using AC253 requires large amounts of the compound to be effective, which is impractical and increases the chances of the body developing an immune reaction to treatment.
Transforming AC253 from an injectable drug into a pill would address the metabolism issues and increase efficacy, but AC253 was too complex to be able to make an effective oral drug.
The team’s solution was to chop AC253 into pieces to see whether he could create smaller peptide strings that blocked amyloid beta in the same way AC253 did.
Through a series of tests, the team found two shorter pieces of AC253 that replicated the preventative and restorative abilities of the larger peptide.
The team found in the mice that received the drugs, we found less amyloid plaque buildup and a reduction in brain inflammation
This very interesting and exciting because it showed us that not only was memory being improved in the mice, but signs of brain pathology in Alzheimer’s disease were also greatly improved.
The team is optimistic about the potential of the new drug to change the way Alzheimer’s is managed.
The lead author of the study is Distinguished University Professor and neurologist Jack Jhamandas.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.
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