Washington : Scientists have identified a potential new drug target in the shape of a protein for the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer’s, reports PTI.
Toxic protein fragments known as amyloid-beta clumped together between neurons in a person’s brain are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Neurons themselves make amyloid-beta, and for reasons that aren’t fully understood, its accumulation ultimately contributes to the memory loss, personality changes, and other symptoms that patients with this degenerative disease often suffer from.
New research by Rockefeller University scientists and their colleagues have identified a series of naturally occurring molecular steps – known as a pathway – that can dampen the production of amyloid-beta. These results suggest a new route in the search for Alzheimer’s therapies.
“Our discovery centres on a protein called WAVE1, which we found to be important in the production of amyloid-beta.
The reduction of WAVE1 appears to have a protective effect against the disease,” said study author Paul Greengard, Vincent Astor Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience.
“When levels of amyloid-beta rise, there is an accompanying increase in another molecule, AICD, which reduces the expression of WAVE1. This has the effect of reducing the production of amyloid-beta,” said Greengard.
“By targeting steps within this newly discovered pathway,” he added, “it may be possible to develop drugs to reduce amyloid-beta that potentially could be used to either treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”
WAVE1 is known to help to build filaments of a protein called actin that serve as basic components of cellular structures.