Potatoes may hold key to Alzheimer's treatment

Aug 15, 2008

A virus that commonly infects potatoes bears a striking resemblance to one of the key proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and researchers have used that to develop antibodies that may slow or prevent the onset of AD.

Studies in mice have demonstrated that vaccinations with the amyloid beta protein (believed to be a major AD contributor) to produce A antibodies can slow disease progression and improve cognitive function, possibly by promoting the destruction of amyloid plaques. Some early human trials have likewise been promising, but had to be halted due to the risk of autoimmune encephalitis.

One way to make Alzheimer's vaccinations safer would be to use a closely-related, but not human, protein as the vaccine, much like cowpox virus is used for smallpox immunizations.

In the August 15 Journal of Biological Chemistry, Robert Friedland and colleagues used this concept on an amyloid-like protein found in potato virus (PVY). They injected PVY into mice followed by monthly boosters for four months. The researchers found that the mice produced strong levels of antibodies that could attach to amyloid beta protein both in both solution and in tissue samples of Alzheimer's patients. And although the levels were lower, mice also developed A antibodies if given injections of PVY-infected potato leaf as opposed to purified PVY.

Friedland and colleagues note that potato virus is a fairly common infection that poses no risk to humans (many people have probably eaten PVY infected potatoes). While tests of PVY antibodies will ultimately determine how useful they can be, they may be a promising lead to treating this debilitating disease.

Article Link: www.jbc.org/cgi/content/full/283/33/22550

Source: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Explore further: Synthesis produces new antibiotic: Scientists confirm potent synthesis of natural tetracycline

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

Apr 22, 2014

It's a familiar trope in science fiction: In enemy territory, activate your cloaking device. And real-world viruses use similar tactics to make themselves invisible to the immune system. Now scientists at ...

Gold nanorods attach to, kill bladder cancer cells

Apr 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —A major strategy of modern cancer research is to discover a difference between cancerous and healthy cells and then to specifically target this difference to kill cancer cells without harming ...

Recommended for you

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

13 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

Breaking benzene

Aug 27, 2014

Aromatic compounds are found widely in natural resources such as petroleum and biomass, and breaking the carbon-carbon bonds in these compounds plays an important role in the production of fuels and valuable ...

User comments : 0