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Laboratory Research Shows Promising Approach to Preventing Alzheimer's
Posted: Monday, March 5, 2012 2:19 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source: Newswise) - As scientists struggle to find an effective way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may have found a new approach to interrupting the process that leads to the devastating disease.

Building on their knowledge of two enzymes that control an "uber" enzyme critical to the development of the disease, the scientists found that the two enzymes are present in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. And by screening some 15,000 compounds, they discovered two that lower activity of the enzymes in test tubes.

The research, published in the Jan. 20 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, offers hope for a novel approach to preventing Alzheimer's disease.

Amyloid originates from a protein called amyloid precursor protein, or APP. An enzyme called beta-site APP cleaving enzyme, or BACE1, cuts APP to produce amyloid and another small fragment called AICD. Both amyloid and AICD are toxic to nerve cells and have been linked to AD.

Current research centers generally on BACE1. Elevated levels of this enzyme, which rise normally during aging, may lead to high levels of amyloid. "The prediction is that if you prevent the up-regulation of BACE1 caused by aging, you could prevent the increased risk of Alzheimer's disease that is also associated with aging," explained Dr. Luigi Puglielli.

Drugs to block BACE1 could, in theory, prevent the build-up of amyloid and help slow or stop the disease. A handful of companies are devoting resources to finding various ways to block BACE1; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has filed a patent for the compounds Puglielli has discovered to be effective.

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