Chemists make discovery that may lead to drug treatment possibilities for Alzheimer's

Feb 10, 2011
This is a piece of the Alzheimer's peptide. Credit: Bowers and the Buratto Groups, UCSB

UC Santa Barbara scientists have made a discovery that has the potential for use in the early diagnosis and eventual treatment of plaque-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Type 2 diabetes. Their work is published in a recent issue of Nature Chemistry.

The amyloid diseases are characterized by plaque that aggregates into toxic agents that interact with cellular machinery, explained Michael T. Bowers, lead author and professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Other amyloid diseases include , Huntington's disease, and atherosclerosis. are protein fibrils that, in the case of Alzheimer's disease, develop prior to the appearance of symptoms.

"The systems we use are model systems, but the results are groundbreaking," said Bowers. He explained that his research provides the first examples of the conversion of randomly assembled aggregates of small peptides into ordered beta sheets that comprise fibrils. Fibrils are the final structural state of the aggregation process.

In the article, Bowers describes how understanding the fundamental forces that relate aggregation, shape, and biochemistry of soluble peptide aggregates is central to developing diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for amyloid diseases.

Bowers and his research team used a method called ion-mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (IMS-MS). This method enabled the team to deduce the peptide self-assembly method. They then examined a series of amyloid-forming peptides clipped from larger or proteins associated with disease.

Bowers explained that IMS-MS has the potential to open new avenues for investigating the pathogenic mechanisms of amyloid diseases, their early diagnosis and eventual treatment.

The first author of the paper is Christian Blieholder, a Humbolt Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSB. Thomas Wyttenbach, UCSB associate researcher, is a co-author. Nicholas F. Dupuis, who was a Ph.D. student at UCSB at the time of the research, is also a co-author; he is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado.

Explore further: Why plants don't get sunburn

Related Stories

Alzheimer's research yields potential drug target

Jul 01, 2009

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara and several other institutions have found laboratory evidence that a cluster of peptides may be the toxic agent in Alzheimer's disease. Scientists say the discovery may lead ...

Researchers find new piece in Alzheimer's puzzle

Feb 25, 2009

Yale researchers have filled in a missing gap on the molecular road map of Alzheimer's disease. In the Feb. 26 issue of the journal Nature, the Yale team reports that cellular prion proteins trigger the process by which ...

New therapy targets for amyloid disease

Dec 04, 2009

A major discovery is challenging accepted thinking about amyloids - the fibrous protein deposits associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - and may open up a potential new area for therapeutics.

Vaccine triggers immune response, prevents Alzheimer's

May 19, 2008

A vaccine created by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists prevents the development of Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology in mice without causing inflammation or significant side effects.

Recommended for you

Why plants don't get sunburn

Oct 29, 2014

Plants rely on sunlight to make their food, but they also need protection from its harmful rays, just like humans do. Recently, scientists discovered a group of molecules in plants that shields them from ...

Viral switches share a shape

Oct 27, 2014

A hinge in the RNA genome of the virus that causes hepatitis C works like a switch that can be flipped to prevent it from replicating in infected cells. Scientists have discovered that this shape is shared by several other ...

'Sticky' ends start synthetic collagen growth

Oct 27, 2014

Rice University researchers have delivered a scientific one-two punch with a pair of papers that detail how synthetic collagen fibers self-assemble via their sticky ends.

Cell membranes self-assemble

Oct 27, 2014

A self-driven reaction can assemble phospholipid membranes like those that enclose cells, a team of chemists at the University of California, San Diego, reports in Angewandte Chemie.

Emergent behavior lets bubbles 'sense' environment

Oct 27, 2014

Tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment, according to new work carried out in an international collaboration by biomedical ...

User comments : 0

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.