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 Research team creates new possibilities for medicine and materials sciences
22.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent
22.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | 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

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>