Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Promising new treatment for Alzheimer’s

20.07.2009
Suggested based on Hebrew University research

Research carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has resulted in a promising approach to help treat Alzheimer’s disease in a significant proportion of the population that suffers from a particularly rapid development of this disease.

In the research at the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences of the Hebrew University, scientists solved a mystery as to why people who carried a mutated gene known as BChE-K were prone to more rapid development of Alzheimer’s than those who had a normal version of the gene. This mutation appears in about 20 percent of the American and Israeli populations.

In theory, the carriers of the mutated gene should actually be more protected from the devastating effects of the disease, since the mutated protein (the enzyme that is the product of the gene) breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at a slower rate than in those who have the normal gene. The result is that the carriers maintain higher levels of this neurotransmitter, so they should in principle be protected from Alzheimer's disease, in which acetylcholine levels decrease.

Indeed, these carriers tend to develop the disease later than others, but when that happens, it progresses more rapidly and does not respond to medication. Therefore, the bottom line is that carriers of the mutated gene have a greater risk than others for disease progression.

The reason for this anomalous situation has been a puzzle for a long time, but the studies by the Hebrew University scientists solved it by finding the explanation for this increased risk, thereby offering as well a possible new therapeutic solution.

At the Wolfson Center for Structural Biology at the Hebrew University, the researchers found that the mutation in the BChE-K gene damages the very end, or tail, of the resultant mutant enzyme protein. This tail is the part of BChE which is important for protection from the Alzheimer's disease plaques. It does this by interacting with the Alzheimer's disease â-amyloid protein and preventing it from precipitating and forming those brain plaques which are the neuropathological hallmark of this disease.

To compare the normal protein to the K mutant, the researchers used synthetic tails of the normal and the K proteins, as well as engineered human BChE produced in the milk of transgenic goats at a U.S. company, Pharmathene. The goat- produced protein is prepared at Pharmathene for the U.S. military as protection from nerve gas poisoning (a result of earlier research at the Hebrew University). It was much more stable and efficient than the mutant protein, which suggests that the BChE-K carriers’ susceptibility to Alzheimer’s could be substantially improved by treating them with the engineered normal protein that is produced in the milk of the transgenic goats.

The current study was the last part in the Ph.D. work of Dr. Erez Podoly, now a post- doctoral fellow with the Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg at Stanford University. Podoly was the joint student of Prof Oded Livnah and Prof. Hermona Soreq and won a National Eshkol fellowship in Biotechnology to perform this work as well as a Kaye Innovation Award at the Hebrew University. Others who contributed to this study included Dr, Debbie Shalev and Dr. Ester Bennett from the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Harvey Wilgus from Pharmathene, and Dr Einor Ben-Assayag and Shani Shenhar- Tsarfati, a Ph.D. student, both from the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel aviv, where the Israeli carriers of BChE-K were identified.

The project is patented and is available for licensing by the Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

An article by the researchers on this work was recently selected as a Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Paper of the Week and featured on the cover of the publication.

For further information, contact:

Rebecca Zeffert, Dept. of Media Relations, the Hebrew University,
tel: 02-588-1641, cell: 054-882-0661
or Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University spokesperson,
tel: 02-5882910, cell: 054-882-0016.

Rebecca Zeffert | Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il
http://www.huji.ac.il/cgi-bin/dovrut/dovrut_search_eng.pl?about
http://media.huji.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>