Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein engineering advancing Alzheimer's research

20.10.2009
No one has yet found a cure or a way to prevent people from developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, among others, are breaking new ground in biotechnology to find new tools that can help provide new solutions. A protein constructed by these researchers has yielded experimental results that are promising when it comes to stopping the disease. And for the first time, using protein engineering, it seems they have successfully created the oligomer that is believed to trigger the disorder.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. In the 60-64 age group, one percent have the disorder, and among people age 85 and older, 25 percent are affected. At present there is no cure for Alzheimer's. Those who develop it grow gradually worse, and the disease leads to death, often after several years of sickness. Besides the tragedy entailed when people contract Alzheimer's disease, the healthcare involved consumes huge resources.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease begin with loss of memory. The disorder is caused by damage to the nerves in the brain. This damage is caused by so-called oligomers of the peptide Aß, which is also found in amyloid plaques, a kind of precipitate, that accumulate in the brain.

At the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, Sweden, Professor Torleif Härd of the Department of Molecular Biology is directing a research project that is developing new biotechnological tools that could be used to in research and as potential therapies. They are deploying protein engineering, and experiments have yielded highly promising results.

One of the strategies for finding an answer to how Alzheimer's disease could be prevented is based on the idea of adding a protein to the blood, to bind to the Aß peptide there. In this way the Aß peptide becomes harmless, and the disease might be prevented.

The research team has studied how an artificial so-called Affibody protein entirely encases the Aß peptide, thereby preventing the formation of toxic forms.

"Nothing like this has ever been done before, and the results have attracted a great deal of attention," says Torleif Härd. "Our success in also determining the structure of this complex constituted a breakthrough, because it paved the way for new ideas for further research."

Now the SLU scientists, working with teams from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and Affibody AB, are seeking to alter the characteristics of the Affibody protein so it won't be broken down when it enters the blood. The strategy is also being tested in flies, and the preliminary results indicate that the strategy works.

Another strategy involves using protein engineering to stabilize the toxic oligomers that are the cause of nerve cell death and memory loss. Oligomers are a stage halfway between the Aß peptide and amyloid plaques. In the laboratory environment they survive only about 15 minutes, making it impossible to study them. If these oligomers can be stopped, it should be possible to prevent Alzheimer's disease from breaking out. To find out more about the structure and mechanism of these oligomers, scientists need to stabilize them in order to examine them, and this is something the scientists in the project have managed to do: they have create a stable oligomer with the same toxic properties as before.

"We are now busy determining the 3D structure of the oligomer. This is important if we are to be able to further study the molecular mechanisms, and it may lead on to drug development," says Torleif Härd. In collaboration with MIVAC Development AB, they are also investigating the possibility of directly developing a vaccine against the disease.

The project is a collaboration involving scientists at SLU, Professor Stefan Ståhl's team at KTH, Professor Lars Lannfelt's team at Uppsala University, ProfessorChristopher M. Dobson's team at Cambridge in England, Affibody AB, and MIVAC Development AB.

The title of the research project is:
Protein Engineering and Alzheimer's Disease: New Tools for Research and Potential Therapeutics
Contact:
Research Director, Professor Torleif Härd, Department of Molecular Biology,
SLU Uppsala, e-mail: torleif.hard@molbio.slu.se , phone: +46 (0)18-471 40 55
Presscontact:
Mikael.Jansson@adm.slu.se, tel. 018-67 14 56,
mobil +4646-733 70 71 11

Mikael Jansson | idw
Further information:
http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2278213
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>