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Alzheimer's Protein Structure Suggests New Treatment Directions
Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 1:37 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source:ScienceDaily ) - Vanderbilt University investigators report that the molecular structure of a protein involved in Alzheimer's disease - and the discovery that it binds cholesterol - could lead to new therapeutics for the disease.

Charles Sanders, PhD, and colleagues determined the structure of part of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) - the source of amyloid-beta believed to trigger Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid-beta clumps together into oligomers that kill neurons, causing dementia and memory loss. The amyloid-beta oligomers form plaques in the brain - one of the hallmarks of the disease.

"Anything that lowers amyloid-beta production should help prevent, or possibly treat, Alzheimer's disease," Sanders explained.


Sanders and his team propose that cholesterol binding moves APP to special regions of the cell membrane called "lipid rafts," which contain "cliques of molecules that like to hang out together," he said.


The findings suggest a new therapeutic strategy to reduce amyloid-beta production. "If you could develop a drug that blocks cholesterol from binding to APP, then you would keep the protein from going to lipid rafts. Instead it would be cleaved by alpha-secretase - a 'good' secretase that isn't in rafts and doesn't generate amyloid-beta."


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