Cancer-related protein may play key role in Alzheimer's disease

Feb 28, 2008

The cancer-related protein Akt may profoundly influence the fate of the tau protein, which forms bundles of tangled nerve cell fibers in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, reports a new study led by researchers at the University of South Florida and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

The study was published online Feb. 21 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings may provide another piece of the puzzle in figuring out how tau proteins can poison nerve cells in the brain.

Akt is known to increase cancer cell survival capability and has become a target in the development of some cancer-inhibitor drugs. The abnormal accumulation of tau protein tangles kills nerve cells and is considered one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This study describes for the first time a new function for the cancer-related protein Akt – one that may help promote Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” said lead author Chad Dickey, PhD, assistant professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at USF. “We found that increased amounts of Akt may prevent the removal of abnormal proteins, such as tau, causing these proteins to accumulate and disrupt the balance within the cells.”

While this Akt-induced imbalance might result in cancer cells continuing to divide uncontrollably, Dr. Dickey suggests it likely has a different effect in Alzheimer’s disease. “The nerve cells may try to divide in the brain, but cannot, and therefore die,” he said. “Thus regulating levels of Akt, rather than its activity, may be beneficial to sufferers of diseases of aging, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and even diabetes.”

Source: University of South Florida

Explore further: Biomedical engineer looks at new applications for novel lupus drug

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Understanding how the brain retrieves memories

20 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Livermore scientists are developing electrode array technology for monitoring brain activity as part of a collaborative research project with UC San Francisco to better understand how the ...

'Work environment' affects protein properties

Jul 03, 2014

The function of proteins, which fulfil various tasks inside the cells, is often analysed in aqueous buffer solutions. However, it is not known, for example in case of pharmaceutical studies, if they work ...

Jekyll and Hyde protein signalling

Jun 23, 2014

Whether a cell lives or dies is determined by complex protein networks within the body. Researchers in Systems Biology Ireland and UCD Conway Institute have uncovered how these opposing biological functions are regulated ...

Recommended for you

Immune response may cause harm in brain injuries, disorders

48 minutes ago

Could the body's own immune system play a role in memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction associated with conditions like chronic epilepsy, Alzheimer's dementia and concussions? Cleveland Clinic researchers believe so, ...

One route to malaria drug resistance found

4 hours ago

Researchers have uncovered a way the malaria parasite becomes resistant to an investigational drug. The discovery, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, also is relevant for other infectious ...

Protein therapy successful in treating injured lung cells

4 hours ago

Cardiovascular researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have successfully used a protein known as MG53 to treat acute and chronic lung cell injury. Additionally, application of this protein proved to ...

User comments : 0