Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new molecular culprit for type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

22.10.2003


Therapies for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type II diabetes should be directed toward a new molecular culprit — the precursor to the clumps of abnormal proteins that have garnered attention for the last century.



Israeli scientists say they have solid evidence that the precursor molecules — called protofibrils — are the problem molecules in type II diabetes, and their results support a similar mechanism for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Further, they say that the current focus on breaking up the abnormal clumps of protein — called fibrils — may in fact be doing more harm than good.

The report appeared in the Sept. 23 edition of Biochemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.


Proteins are the chemical workhorses of the body. These long chains of amino acids fold into myriad forms, but they must assume the right three-dimensional structure to function properly. Misfolded proteins are the basis of a number of seemingly unconnected diseases, including age-related diseases like type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as "mad cow" (BSE) and other prion diseases.

Despite many years of investigation, the actual mechanism of misfolding has eluded researchers, leaving them without the understanding necessary to develop effective treatments or even properly diagnose the diseases.

The most popular theory has revolved around long clumps of misfolded proteins known as amyloid fibrils that kill cells in patients. Therapeutic efforts have focused on breaking up these deposits. In Alzheimer’s they are called amyloid plaques; in Parkinson’s they are called Lewy bodies; in type II diabetes they are called islet amyloid deposits and occur in the "islets of Langerhans," the area of the pancreas where insulin is produced and regulated.

"Type II diabetes is one of the most common amyloid-related diseases," says Ehud Gazit, Ph.D., a researcher at Tel Aviv University in Israel and lead author of the study. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimate that more than 18 percent of American adults older than age 65 have diabetes, almost entirely of type II." As the life expectancy of people around the world continues to increase, this and other age-related diseases will become an even greater public health concern, he says.

Scientists have previously suggested that mature fibrils of the amyloid polypeptide protein — the key component of the islet deposits — are toxic to cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, attacking through tiny holes in the cell membrane. Gazit and his colleagues, graduate student Yair Porat and Sofiya Kolusheva and Raz Jelinek from Ben Gurion University, studied the interactions between the protein and cell membrane. They discovered that smaller structures formed prior to the mature fibrils, called protofibrils, are more likely to get through the membrane, and may therefore be the more toxic species.

In the past few years, other scientists have noticed the effects of protofibrils while studying Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but the notion that they may be the main culprits is fairly new. Earlier this summer in another Biochemistry paper, Peter Lansbury of Harvard University suggested a possible therapeutic strategy for Parkinson’s based on stopping the formation of protofibrils.

"A very interesting point is the striking similarity between these assemblies and the structures observed in the cases of Alzehimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease," Gazit says. The new study offers solid experimental evidence of the phenomenon in type II diabetes, and demonstrates a common thread among the three diseases.

The majority of research continues to focus on mature fibrils, but this could prove to be dangerous if the new protofibril mechanism is correct, according to Gazit. Breaking up the large amyloid deposits may actually increase the number of protofibrils, thus increasing the level of toxicity to the body.

Gazit’s new research on protofibrils is still in the early stages, but it suggests the need for a shift in focus from breaking up mature fibril deposits to inhibiting the earlier stage of protofibril formation. His group has designed several potential inhibitor molecules and they are currently testing their potency.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Periodic ventilation keeps more pollen out than tilted-open windows
29.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Improving memory with magnets
28.03.2017 | McGill University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Periodic ventilation keeps more pollen out than tilted-open windows

29.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Researchers discover dust plays prominent role in nutrients of mountain forest ecoystems

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

OLED production facility from a single source

29.03.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>