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Indian Researchers discover Fibrinogen, a Blood Protein that opens up new horizons in designing Drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease

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Kolkata, Dec 9, 2016: Opening up new horizons in designing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, Indian researchers have discovered that fibrinogen, a protein that is essential to stop bleeding by helping form blood clot, may arrest the damage caused to nerve cells in the devastating neuro-degenerative disorder.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterised by extensive loss of neurons and deposition of amyloid beta peptide in the form of plaques. The amyloid plaques that form between the brain’s neurons as it ages are toxic and hence cause the cognitive losses associated with Alzheimer’s. “We have, for the first time, demonstrated that the cytotoxic effects of amyloid beta can be prevented by fibrinogen in a dose-dependent manner.

Fibrinogen acts as a shield or antidote against its toxicity,” lead scientist of the study Debabrata Dash from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), told IANS on Thursday. Dash said the toxic effects of amyloid beta on blood platelets as well as on neuronal cells can be significantly reduced by pre-treatment with fibrinogen. “As fibrinogen is already known to bind amyloid beta, it can capture or sequester amyloid beta and prevent the latter from interacting with neuronal cells or platelets,” he said. There is a catch.

Fibrinogen does not cross blood-brain barrier (BBB) so this rules out the possibility of the protein gaining entry into brain and capturing the rogue amyloid beta peptides. “But peptides or small molecules resembling parts of fibrinogen can be designed which can cross blood-brain barrier to sequester amyloid beta in brain and can act as a novel therapeutic strategy against Alzheimer’s,” Dash explained, adding this is the scientists’ future plan.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Medicine. Apart from BHU, the study involved researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata and Indian Institute of Toxicological Research Centre in Lucknow.

The idea posited in the study could also work in favour of advanced diagnostics. “The peptides that we intend to use for therapeutics can be conjugated with MRI contrast agents. It might be possible to detect or image amyloid plaques within the brain of AD patients non-invasively employing magnetic resonance imaging using these conjugated peptides capable of binding to amyloid plaques after crossing blood brain barrier,” he added. (IANS)

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Novel AI Tool May help to Predict Alzheimer’s risk

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization

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Can managing cholesterol reduce Alzheimer's risk? Read it out here. Pixabay

A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data.

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment,” Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” she added.

Alzheimer's
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future,” Chakravarty noted.

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

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Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease. (IANS)