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Enzyme Nuak1 likely to help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, say Researchers

Enzyme Nuak1 is going to prevent accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain

A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

New York, October 23, 2016: Enzyme Nuak1 is a reliable potential target which can be used in drugs to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, finds a research.

Enzyme Nuak1 helps to prevent accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain.

The study, published in Cell Press journal Neuron, took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are evident.

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The scientists were able to prevent those early events and the subsequent development of brain pathology in experimental animal models in the lab.

“Common diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain,” said Huda Zoghbi, Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, US.

Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, suggested the study.

“Scientists in the field have been focusing mostly on the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Here we tried to find clues about what is happening at the very early stages of the illness, before clinical irreversible symptoms appear,” said Cristian Lasagna-Reeves, researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine.

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The scientists reasoned that if they could find ways to prevent or reduce Tau accumulation in the brain, they would uncover new possibilities for developing drug treatments for these diseases.

To find which enzymes affect Tau accumulation, the scientists systematically inhibited enzymes called Kinases.

“We inhibited about 600 Kinases one by one and found one, called Nuak1, whose inhibition resulted in reduced levels of Tau,” Zoghbi added.

The scientists screened the enzymes in two different systems, cultured human cells and the laboratory fruit fly. Screening in the fruit fly allowed the scientists to assess the effects of inhibiting the enzymes in a functional nervous system in a living organism.

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“We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of Tau in both human cells and fruit flies. Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behaviour of the mice and prevented brain degeneration,” Zoghbi added.

Confirming in three independent systems – human cells, the fruit fly and the mouse – that Nuak1 inhibition results in reduced levels of Tau and prevents brain abnormalities induced by toxic accumulation. (IANS)

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  • Antara

    A ray of hope!

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Can A Beetroot Compound Prevent Alzheimer’s?

The findings showed that the compound betanin in beetroot extract could eventually help slow the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain, a process that is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Pixabay

A compound found in beetroot that gives the vegetable its distinctive red color could help prevent Alzheimer’s, finds a study that could lead to the development of drugs for treating the disease.

“Our data suggest that betanin shows some promise as an inhibitor of certain chemical reactions in the brain that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Li-June Ming, from the University of South Florida.

ALSO READ: A ray of hope: Study reveals Alzheimer’s may be caused by misfiring immune system

Beta-amyloid is a sticky protein fragment, or peptide, that accumulates in the brain, disrupting communication between brain cells called neurons.

Much of the damage occurs when beta-amyloid attaches itself to metals such as iron or copper.

These metals can cause beta-amyloid peptides to misfold and bind together in clumps that can promote inflammation and oxidation — a process similar to rusting — in nearby neurons, eventually killing them. Pixabay


Betanin is also used in commercial dyes that readily binds to metals.

The team investigated betanin’s potential to block the effects of copper on beta-amyloid and, in turn, prevent the misfolding of these peptides and the oxidation of neurons.

ALSO READ: Could diabetes drug cure Alzheimer’s disease?

When betanin was added to the copper-bound beta-amyloid mixture, the researchers found oxidation dropped by as much as 90 percent, suggesting that misfolding of the peptides was potentially suppressed.

“We can’t say that betanin stops the misfolding completely, but we can say that it reduces oxidation,” noted Darrell Cole Cerrato from the varsity.

“Less oxidation could prevent misfolding to a certain degree, perhaps even to the point that it slows the aggregation of beta-amyloid peptides, which is believed to be the ultimate cause of Alzheimer’s,” Cerrato explained.

The results were presented at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. IANS