Scientists have discovered a molecule that can interrupt an important stage in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The molecule sticks to faulty proteins and stops them forming toxic clusters in the brain.
The UK and Swedish researchers suggest their finding will help the discovery of drugs that could halt Alzheimer’s disease progression.
They write about their discovery and its implications in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Lead author Dr. Samuel Cohen – a research fellow at St John’s College in Cambridge, UK – says with studies like theirs, we are beginning to reap the rewards of the extensive work that has been done to increase our understanding of the microscopic processes involved in the development of Alzheimer’s. He adds:
“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.”
Many functions in cells are carried out by carefully folded proteins. Folding is an energy-efficient way of ensuring distant parts of the protein molecule that need to interact are near each other. Some of these structures are complex and need the help of housekeeping molecules called “chaperones.”
A key step in the development of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases is the accumulation or “nucleation” of misfolded proteins – known as amyloid fibrils – that do not disperse or dissolve away but form toxic clusters and help the disease spread in the brain.
The molecule that the international team has discovered is a chaperone called Brichos that sticks to threads of amyloid fibrils and stops them coming into contact with each other, thus breaking the toxic chain reaction.
Source: Medical News Today