QBI neuroscientists make Alzheimer's disease advance

June 10, 2008

Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) neuroscientists at UQ have discovered a new way to reduce neuronal loss in the brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease. Memory loss in people with Alzheimer's disease can be attributed to several factors.

These include a build-up of the neuro-toxin Amyloid beta – the major component of amyloid plaques found in patients with Alzheimer's – and corresponding degeneration of a specific population of nerve cells in the basal forebrain.

QBI neuroscientist Dr Elizabeth Coulson's research was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

She said the research had established that the molecule known as p75 neurotrophin receptor was necessary for the Amyloid beta to cause nerve cell degeneration in the basal forebrain.

During her research, Dr Coulson's team found – both in cultured cells and in an animal model of Alzheimer's disease – that it was possible to completely prevent Amyloid beta toxicity by removing the p75 cell death receptor.

"Discovering how Amyloid beta triggers neuronal degeneration has been a question bugging neuroscientists for decades, and we have identified an important piece of the puzzle," Dr Coulson said.

These results provide a novel mechanism to explain the early and characteristic loss of brain cells that occurs in Alzheimer's disease – which are known to be important for memory formation.

Dr Coulson already has patented molecules that can block p75 and is ready to begin testing them in animal models of Alzheimer's disease.

"If such therapy is successful, it probably wouldn't cure this multifaceted disease," Dr Coulson said.

"But it would be a significant improvement on what is currently available for Alzheimer's disease patients."

The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2040, neurodegenerative conditions will become the world's leading cause of death, overtaking cancer.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common dementia affecting 10 per cent of people over 65 and 40 per cent over 80 years of age.

Significant advances in determining the molecular regulation of nerve cell function and survival have major impact on our understanding of more complex areas such as behaviour, cognition, aging and neurological diseases.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Fluorescent probe selectively detects biomarkers linked to Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Big moves in protein structure prediction and design

December 16, 2015

The potential of modular design for brand new proteins that do not exist in the natural world is explored Dec. 16 in the journal Nature. The reports are the latest in a recent series of developments toward custom-designing ...

Compounds fend off Alzheimer's disease amyloid pathology

September 8, 2010

A team of scientists, led by University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers, has synthesized hundreds of new compounds with the potential of reducing the production of the A-beta 42 peptide, a primary ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.