New Drug Prevents Alzheimer's-Related Damage

Posted: Jan 26 2017, 8:14am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

New Drug Prevents Alzheimer's-Related Damage
In some people, the brain protein tau collects into toxic tangles that damage brain cells and contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found a drug that can lower tau levels and prevent some neurological damage. In neurons that contain the drug (above, in red) there are no tau tangles (in green). Credit: Sarah DeVos
  • Reverse some neurological harm
 

Reduction in tau protein prevents Alzheimer’s in mice, opens doors for new treatment method in humans

Tau protein helps in brain activity in normal people, but in certain conditions it may cause damage to the brain cells by accumulating in toxic tangles. The tangles cause Alzheimer and different neuro-degenerative diseases.

However, new research shows that tau protein levels can be reduced preventing a damage to brain cells. A synthetic molecule can reduce tau before it’s built.

Scientists researched on mice and monkeys, and published the study in Science Translational Medicine on Jan 25, 2017. The study results show that, the molecule named antisense oligonucleotide can treat certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

The molecules can even reverse the disease,  and it’s the first time such compound is discovered that can reduce the damage created by tau, said Timothy Miller, MD, PhD, the David Clayson Professor of Neurology and the study's senior author. 

Miller, along with graduate student Sarah DeVos, PhD, and colleagues studied mice that produce tau. The mice have tau tangles when they are 6 months old and these tau tangles cause damage to brain when they are 9 months old.Scientists studied a molecule to reduce tau, as the molecule hinders the production of protein.

Genes in the DNA are copied into RNA, that’s a messenger molecule that causes protein. Antisense oligonucleotides connect to the messenger RNA and destroy it before protein’s construction. Scientists say that they can design any oligonucleotides to target the RNA for any type of protein.

The scientists checked the dose of the anti-tau oligonucleotide to 9-month-old mice every day for a month and studied tau proteins when mice were 12 months old, and found that tau level was reduced. Normally, mice brain gets damaged in 9 months, but the experiment reduced tau proteins, preventing the mice from brain damage or shrinkage.

Scientists observed that the mice treated with molecule dose survived for 36 days more than those mice that were not treated.

The scientists are considering the possibility of lowering tau protein in humans to protect certain brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. To see the results, the research team did same experiment on monkeys, who are considered close to humans in term of species. The experiment result showed a reduction in tau in monkeys.

Now scientists want to see if it’s safe to test same experiment in humans. After it’s proved safe, it will open doors for a new treatment method.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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