New synthetic peptide may help treat Alzheimer’s

  1. 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.
  2. Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. It is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.