Key to blocking Alzheimer’s progress discovered
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by naturally occurring protein molecules folding into the wrong shape then sticking together with other protein molecules to create amyloid fibrils.
British researchers have identified a molecule that can block the progress of Alzheimer’s disease at a crucial stage in its development. They have found a molecular chaperone that inhibits a key stage in the development of the disease and breaks the toxic chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells.
Scientists at Cambridge University have shown that a type of molecule “Brichos” which occurs naturally in humans, can play the role of an inhibitor during the molecular process that is believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe that this breaks the cycle of events leading to the disease. Research has provided an effective basis for finding molecules that could be used for treating the condition.
Brichos clings to threads of malfunctioning proteins called amyloid fibrils, which are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, the molecules stop the threads coming into contact with other amyloid proteins, thereby helping to avoid formation of highly toxic clusters which enable the condition to grow rapidly in the brain.
One of the most critical stages in the development of Alzheimer’s in sufferers is considered to be – where fibrils made up of malfunctioning proteins amyloid assist in the formation of toxic clusters. Scientists have moved closer to identifying a substance by finding a molecule that could prevent the disease and eventually treat it. A range of options for future drug development could be made possible through this discovery.
This research was carried out by an international team of academics from the department of chemistry at the University of Cambridge, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Lund University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Tallinn University.
Lead author Dr Samuel Cohen, University of Cambridge, and lead author said “Our study shows, for the first time, one of these critical processes being specifically inhibited, and reveals that by doing so we can prevent the toxic effects of protein aggregation that are associated with this terrible condition.”