Based on the latest findings, scientists discovered that a pill might prevent toxic molecules from accumulating in the brain, meaning that Alzheimer’s could be at least delayed if not prevented.
The experts’ target was to develop of strategy to tackle the early brain events which represent the major factors influencing the development of Alzheimer’s. These early events cannot be considered symptoms, but merely signs that something is not right up there.
During the study, researchers managed to prevent these early events and other subsequent malfunctions that usually occur in the Alzheimer’s development by conducting an experiment on animal models.
‘Common diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain. 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,’ said Huda Zoghbi, senior author.
Also, another colleague stresses that other researchers have focused until now only on final or terminal stages of this disease, whereas in the latest study, the team aimed to discover the first signs that occurred before the early stages and before the disease became clinically incurable.
In other words, with this new and original approach, researchers focus on early diagnose and prevention rather than on a miraculous cure. Although this study represents just a first step in a long journey, it is also a new door opened to many possibilities.
Scientists said that they would continue their research to find out the best way to reduce or prevent the accumulation of toxic proteins, called tau, into the brain. If their efforts pay off, it will be possible to develop new treatments and medications to prevent, delay, and treat Alzheimer’s during its very early stages.
Cells manage to control the proteins level with the help of other proteins known as enzymes. By systematically inhibiting enzymes (kinases), the team tried to discover which kinases influence tau accumulation.
According to Zoghbi, after inhibiting around 600 kinases, they found out that one of them known as Nuak1 showed reduced tau levels. Then, researchers screened these enzymes using two distinct system such as the lab fruit fly and cultured human cells.
As it turned out, Nuak1 was highly effective in both cases by significantly reducing tau levels. Scientists will continue their experiments to find out more about this enzyme, while they also hope to discover other enzymes that would prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
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