- Researchers at the University of Washington, USA have developed synthetic peptides that could target and reduce toxic protein aggregates, which are supposed to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. It is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.
- It is caused by the aggregation of the toxic protein. Neurons in the human brain make a protein called amyloid beta. Such proteins on their own, called monomers of amyloid beta, perform important tasks for neurons.
- However, in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid beta monomers abandoned their jobs and get joined together. First, they form oligomers which are small clusters of up to a dozen proteins. After that longer strands are formed and finally large deposits called plaques are formed.
- Previously scientists had believed that plaques led to the cognitive impairments, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. However, new studies have shown that the smaller aggregates of amyloid beta are the toxic elements of this disease.
- The latest University of Washington research has reported that the synthetic peptides, which are designed to fold into a structure known as an alpha sheet, can block amyloid beta aggregation at the early and most toxic stage when oligomers form. Thus, the new research is a significant breakthrough and may help treat Alzheimer’s disease.
2 min read