Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alzheimer's discovery could bring early diagnosis, treatment closer

27.05.2009
McGill and Lady Davis Institute findings help pinpoint molecular cause of the disease

A discovery made by researchers at McGill University and the affiliated Lady Davis Research Institute for Medical Research at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital offers new hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on May 15, Dr. Hemant Paudel, his PhD student Dong Han and postdoctoral fellows Hamid Qureshi and Yifan Lu, report that the addition of a single phosphate to an amino acid in a key brain protein is a principal cause of Alzheimer's. Identifying this phosphate, one of up to two-dozen such molecules, could make earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's possible and might, in the longer term, lead to the development of drugs to block its onset.

The crucial protein, called a tau protein, is a normal part of the brain and central nervous system. But in Alzheimer's patients, tau proteins go out of control and form tangles that, along with senile plaques, are the primary cause of the degenerative disease.

Several years ago, it was discovered that tau proteins in normal brains contain only three to four attached phosphates, while abnormal tau in Alzheimer's patients have anywhere from 21 to 25 additional phosphates.

Paudel and his team have discovered that it is the addition of a single phosphate to the Ser202 amino acid within the tau brain protein that is the principal culprit responsible for Alzheimer's.

"The impact of this study is twofold," said Paudel, associate professor at McGill's Dept. of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and Project Director at the Bloomfield Centre for Research in Aging at the Lady Davis. "We can now do brain imaging at the earliest stages of the disease. We don't have to look for many different tau phosphates, just this single phosphate. The possibility of early diagnosis now exists.

"Second, the enzyme which puts this phosphate on the tau can be targeted by drugs, so therapies can be developed. This discovery gives us, for the first time, a clear direction towards the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's."

Paudel and his students worked for years to exclude the phosphates not directly responsible for causing Alzheimer's symptoms. They finally succeeded by working with FTDP-17, a genetic disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's, but transmitted via mutations. By genetically manipulating these mutations, they were able to prove that the phosphate on Ser202 almost single-handedly is responsible for the tau abnormalities that cause both FTDP-17 and Alzheimer's.

The disease leads to severe mental degeneration and almost-inevitable death, and there is no known cure, nor even a reliable technique for early diagnosis. A patient is diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's in the United States every 70 seconds, and deaths due to the disease have increased by a staggering 47 per cent since 2000. With the Baby Boomer population aging, those numbers are expected to explode even further in coming decades.

There are more than 5.3 million people with Alzheimer's in the United States, and more than 300,000 in Canada. Every one of those patients faces years of increasing mental incapacity followed by almost certain death, with no hope of treatment. The U.S. Alzheimer's Association has called the current situation a "crisis."

Mark Shainblum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>