Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biologics & Bioprocessing
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Study Leads to Alzheimer's Breakthrough

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers at the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit have used an orally-administered compound to block a major pathway leading to brain cell death in mice, preventing neurodegeneration.

The team had found previously that the build up of misfolded proteins in the brains of mice with prion disease over-activates a natural defence mechanism in cells, which switches off the production of new proteins. This mechanism would normally switch back ‘on’ again, but in these mice the continued build-up of misshapen protein keeps the switch turned ‘off’. This is the trigger point leading to brain cell death, as the key proteins essential for nerve cell survival stop being made. 

Originally, the team injected a protein that blocked the ‘off’ switch of the pathway into a small region of the brain, and by doing this were able to restore protein production, and halt the neurodegeneration. The brain cells were protected, and protein levels and synaptic transmission (the way in which brain cells signal to each other) were restored allowing the mice to live longer. This led the scientists to predict that compounds able to block this pathway would also protect brain cells.

In the new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers gave by mouth a drug-like compound against the pathway to prion infected mice, hoping to block the off-switch in the same way.  The compound, which had originally been developed by GlaxoSmithKline for a different purpose, was able to enter the brain from the bloodstream and halt the disease, throughout the whole brain. However, this compound, despite protecting the brain, also produced weight loss in the mice and mild diabetes, due to damage to the pancreas.*

The researchers studied mice with prion disease because these mouse models currently provide the best animal representation of human neurodegenerative disorders in which the build up of misshapen proteins is linked with brain cell death.  These include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as prion diseases.  Another paper in Nature Neuroscience last month highlighted this pathway as a potential therapeutic target in treating Alzheimer’s.

Professor Giovanna Mallucci, who led the team, said, “Our previous study predicted that this pathway could be a target for treatment to protect brain cells in neurodegenerative disease.  So we administered a compound that blocks it to mice with prion disease. We were extremely excited when we saw the treatment stop the disease in its tracks and protect brain cells, restoring some normal behaviours and preventing memory loss in the mice.

“We’re still a long way from a usable drug for humans – this compound had serious side effects. But the fact that we have established that this pathway can be manipulated to protect against brain cell loss first with genetic tools and now with a compound, means that developing drug treatments targeting this pathway for prion and other neurodegenerative diseases is now a real possibility.”

Professor Hugh Perry, chair of the Medical Research Council's Neuroscience and Mental Health Board, said, “Misshapen proteins in prion diseases and other human neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, also over-activate this fundamental pathway controlling protein synthesis in the brains of patients. Despite the toxicity of the compound used, this study indicates that, in mice at least, we now have proof-of-principle of a therapeutic pathway that can be targeted. This might eventually aid the development of drugs to treat people suffering from dementias and other devastating neurodegenerative diseases.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Making Vaccines More Effective In The Elderly
Compound shown to restore the immune system’s inbuilt memory.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
£93 Million Package of Support Announced for UK’s Health Industries
Innovative business and academic projects will benefit from a new £93.2 million package of support.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Scientific News
Less May Be More in Slowing Cholera Epidemics
Mathematical model shows more cases may be prevented and more lives saved when using one dose of cholera vaccine instead of recommended two doses.
NIH Launches Human RSV Study
Study aims to understand infection in healthy adults to aid development of RSV medicines, vaccines.
Flu Remedies Help Combat E. coli Bacteria
Physiologists from the University of Zurich have now discovered why the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) multiplies heavily and has an inflammatory effect.
'Fountain of Youth' Protein Points to Possible Human Health Benefit
Patients with higher blood levels of growth factor have lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
Lemon Juice and Human Norovirus
Citric acid may prevent the highly contagious norovirus from infecting humans, scientists discovered from the German Cancer Research Center.
Study Backs Flu Vaccinations for Elderly
Brown University researchers found vaccines well matched to the year’s flu strain significantly reduce deaths and hospitalizations compared to when the match is poor, suggesting that vaccination indeed makes a difference.
Inciting an Immune Attack on Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
Protein Found to Play a Key Role in Blocking Pathogen Survival
Calprotectin fends off microbial invaders by limiting access to iron, an important nutrient.
Major Advance Toward More Effective, Long-Lasting Flu Vaccine
Collaboration shows vaccine candidate can produce powerful ‘broadly neutralizing antibodies’ in animal models.
Immune System: Help for Killer Cells
A study from the University of Bonn may show the way to more effective vaccines.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!