Wednesday January 22, 2020

Alzheimer’s Drug Holds Promise For Rare Neurological Disease, Suggest Researchers

In Alzheimer's, brain regions controlling memory are attacked first

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Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

An existing therapy frequently used to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease might work on patients with a rare neurological disease that destroys language and currently has no treatment, suggest researchers.

Alzheimer’s patients are presently treated with a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors which reduce its symptoms by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine — a chemical messenger that contributes to learning and memory.

The study, led by Northwestern University researchers, found that individuals with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) undergo the same loss of cholinergic neurons and axons in the forebrain as individuals with Alzheimer’s. Therefore, they might also benefit from these cholinesterase inhibitors.

The team focused on the type of PPA that shows a typical Alzheimer’s pathology — the plaques and tangles — in the brain.

However, these patients tend to be excluded from Alzheimer’s-related clinical trials and are less likely to be prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors.

“That’s why our study is so important for patients,” said Changiz Geula from the varsity.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

No one knew before that this cholinergic system is destroyed in patients with PPA associated with Alzheimer’s but we’ve now demonstrated that and have justified the need for clinical trials with this therapy, the researchers said.

“The findings provide the basic scientific foundation to spur a clinical trial to test the treatment on patients with PPA,” Geula said.

The study, reported in the Neurology journal, noted that chemical brain scans called positron emission tomography (PET) can determine if there is Alzheimer’s disease pathology in someone’s brain while they are alive.

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This makes it possible to see if someone has the type of PPA associated with Alzheimer’s disease or not.

In individuals with PPA, brain regions responsible for language, located in the left hemisphere in the majority of the population, are damaged first.

Patients with PPA progressively continue to lose their ability to talk, read, write or understand what they hear. In Alzheimer’s, brain regions controlling memory are attacked first. (IANS)

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This Protein in the Human Brain Can Protect Against Alzheimer’s disease

Brain protein that could protect against Alzheimer's disease

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Human Brain
Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer's disease. Pixabay

Researchers have found that a protein that regulates white blood cells in the human brain could protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

The results published in the journal Communications Biology suggest that this protein, called CD33, could have important implications in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

“Immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease,” explained study co-author Matthew Macauley, Assistant Professor at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

“They can be harmful or protective. Swaying microglia from a harmful to protective state could be the key to treating the disease,” Macauley added.

Scientists have identified the CD33 protein as a factor that may decrease a person’s likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain
CD33 protein in the brain plays a crucial role in modulating the function of microglia. Pixabay

Now, Macauley’s research has shown that the most common type of CD33 protein plays a crucial role in modulating the function of microglia.

“The fact that CD33 is found on microglia suggests that immune cells can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease under the right circumstances,” said Abhishek Bhattacherjee, first author and postdoctoral fellow in the Macauley lab.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 44 million people around the world.

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“These findings set the stage for future testing of a causal relationship between CD33 and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as testing therapeutic strategies to sway microglia from harmful to protecting against the disease – by targeting CD33,” said Macauley.

“Microglia have the potential to ‘clean up’ the neurodegenerative plaques, through a process called phagocytosis — so a therapy to harness this ability to slow down or reverse Alzheimer’s disease can be envisioned,” Macauley said. (IANS)