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: Scientists find clues to cancer drug failure

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

What causes the sunlight flavour in milk?

13 hours ago

Most of us have tasted milk that has been left in the sun – it has a distinctive off-flavour. The reason is that milk and other dairy products turn rancid when exposed to light.

Scientists find clues to cancer drug failure

Mar 02, 2015

Cancer patients fear the possibility that one day their cells might start rendering many different chemotherapy regimens ineffective. This phenomenon, called multidrug resistance, leads to tumors that defy ...

Smart crystallization

Mar 02, 2015

A novel nucleating agent that builds on the concept of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) could allow crystallographers access to proteins and other biological macromolecules that are usually reluctant ...

Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel

Mar 02, 2015

Researchers from institutions including Lund University have taken a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. In a new study, they have successfully tracked the electrons' rapid transit through ...

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.