A research team led by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has developed a groundbreaking drug delivery system for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
They have engineered tiny structures called exosomes, which are released by cells, to efficiently transport a bioactive compound called Corynoxine-B extracted from Chinese herbal medicine Gouteng to the brains of mice with AD.
Corynoxine-B has the ability to induce autophagy, a cellular process crucial for maintaining cell health. This novel drug delivery system using exosomes has demonstrated the potential to enhance cognitive function, reduce AD symptoms, and improve mobility.
The research findings have been published in the journal Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy.
AD is the most prevalent type of dementia, characterized by the degeneration and death of brain cells, resulting in cognitive decline. It is associated with the accumulation of amyloid-beta and phospho-tau proteins in the brain.
Currently, there is no curative treatment for AD, and available treatments can only delay disease progression and alleviate symptoms.
Globally, over 55 million people suffer from dementia, with more than 100,000 elderly individuals affected in Hong Kong alone. This number is projected to rise to over 330,000 by 2039.
Previous HKBU research revealed that Corynoxine-B, a bioactive compound found in Gouteng, is effective in treating AD.
However, the blood-brain barrier, a protective mechanism that shields the brain from harmful substances in the bloodstream, hinders its ability to reach the brain.
Exosomes as Drug Carriers
To address this challenge, a research team led by Professor Li Min, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) of Chinese Medicine, and Dr. Ashok Iyaswamy, Research Assistant Professor at HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine, collaborated with local, mainland, and international scientists to develop an innovative method for delivering Corynoxine-B to the brain using exosomes.
Exosomes are tiny vesicles released by cells that can transport molecules between cells, serving as nanocarriers. Recent research has shown that they hold potential as vehicles for drug delivery.
In their study, the researchers manipulated neuronal cells in mice to overexpress an adaptor protein called Fe65 on the surface of exosomes produced by these cells. Fe65 is involved in processing amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP), a key player in AD development.
The engineered exosomes demonstrated a heightened ability to migrate toward neuronal cells overexpressing APP, a characteristic feature of AD. This suggests that exosomes with Fe65 on their surface can efficiently target and interact with neuronal cells involved in AD.
Reduction of Amyloid-Beta Protein and Cognitive Improvement
The researchers loaded Corynoxine-B into the engineered exosomes and administered them to mice with AD to assess their therapeutic potential.
The results revealed that these engineered exosomes enhanced autophagy in mice and successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier to deliver Corynoxine-B to the brain, resulting in a 30% reduction in accumulated amyloid-beta protein.
Additionally, various behavioral tests conducted on mice with AD, including the rotarod test, open field test, contextual fear conditioning test, and Morris’s water maze test, demonstrated a 25% recovery in cognitive and locomotor behavior following the application of engineered exosomes loaded with Corynoxine-B.
Professor Li Min remarked, “Our study suggests that exosomes may offer a promising new avenue for drug delivery to the brain to treat AD. While further research is necessary, this study provides hope for a potential AD cure in the future.
We aspire that this research project will ultimately benefit the elderly, individuals at high risk of neurodegeneration, and patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”
If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about Vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and Oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.
The research findings can be found in Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy.
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