New developments in Alzheimer’s research are brining us closer to more precise therapies for this condition.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which interfere with the normal communication flow between brain cells. These plaques are made out of beta-amyloid amino acids that stick together.
Over the past few years, researchers from various institutions have been working to develop antibodies — a type of protein harnessed by the immune system as part of the immune response — able to interfere with beta-amyloid and prevent the formation of plaques in the brain.
But the search for effective antibodies, though promising, has been riddled with obstacles and setbacks. That is why a team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, has recently conducted a series of experiments to identify a better way of targeting beta-amyloid.
This, they hoped, would lead to the development of a more efficient antibody to be used in Alzheimer’s therapy.
Principal investigator Dominic Walsh and team came up with a novel technique to collect beta-amyloid and to prepare it in the laboratory.
Beta-amyloid: Which forms are toxic?
“Many different efforts are currently underway to find treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, and anti-[beta-amyloid] antibodies are currently the furthest advanced,” says Walsh.
“But the question remains: what are the most important forms of [beta-amyloid] to target?”
“Our study points to some interesting answers,” the lead researcher adds, and these answers are now reported in an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications.
As the researchers explain, beta-amyloid can be found in many forms. At one end of the spectrum, there is the monomer (a type of molecule), which is not necessarily toxic.