New marker for Alzheimer's discovered

Sep 14, 2009

Gothenburg researchers have discovered a previously unknown substance in spinal fluid that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. The findings, described in a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, will also be useful in research on new medications.

The substance is a beta-amyloid called Abeta16. The thesis shows in two independent studies that Alzheimer's patients have higher levels of the protein in their than do healthy individuals.

'The discovery of the new protein could be used to diagnose patients with Alzheimer's and also help determine which medications are most effective for the disease', says biochemist Erik Portelius, the author of the thesis.

includes the formation of on the brain. Neurons and other cell types form around 20 different beta-amyloid proteins, and these are excreted into the spinal fluid around the brain.

'These types of beta-amyloid proteins can be analysed with great precision, and our research team has also shown that the analyses can be used to distinguish between Alzheimer's patients and healthy individuals with a high degree of accuracy', says Portelius.

The beta-amyloid protein Abeta42 is particularly prevalent in the plaque. Abeta42 is created when a larger protein is cut into pieces by certain enzymes. The new Alzheimer's drugs that are currently being tested aim to reduce the production of Abeta42 by blocking these enzymes. Portelius found that these drugs increase the level of the newly discovered Abeta16.

'Abeta42 and Abeta16 are formed from the same precursor molecule, but the enzymatic process is different and Abeta16 is not harmful. The finding that Abeta16 is a very sensitive biomarker for the effect of these drugs may become very useful in future treatment studies', says Portelius.

Source: University of Gothenburg (news : web)

Explore further: Scientists 1 step closer to cell therapy for multiple sclerosis patients

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anti-inflammatory drug blocks brain plaques

Jun 24, 2008

Brain destruction in Alzheimer's disease is caused by the build-up of a protein called amyloid beta in the brain, which triggers damaging inflammation and the destruction of nerve cells. Scientists had previously shown that ...

The good and the bad of a potential Alzheimer's target

Jun 27, 2008

Research in fruit flies has shown that enhancing the production of a protein called neprilysin can reduce the formation of plaques and neuron death associated with Alzheimer's, at the expense of reducing the flies' lifespan.

Can tomatoes carry the cure for Alzheimer's?

Jul 08, 2008

The humble tomato could be a suitable carrier for an oral vaccine against Alzheimer's disease, according to HyunSoon Kim from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) in Korea and colleagues from ...

Scientists find new cause of Alzheimer's

Apr 19, 2006

Belgium researchers say they are the first to demonstrate the quantity of amyloid protein in brain cells is a major factor of Alzheimer's disease.

Recommended for you

Antioxidant biomaterial promotes healing

1 hour ago

When a foreign material like a medical device or surgical implant is put inside the human body, the body always responds. According to Northwestern University's Guillermo Ameer, most of the time, that response can be negative ...

Immune response may cause harm in brain injuries, disorders

3 hours 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

7 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 ...

User comments : 0