Liver, Not Brain, May Be Origin Of Alzheimer’s Plaques
March 4, 2011
Adapted from the Scripps Research Institute
Unexpected results from a Scripps Research Institute and ModGene, LLC study could completely alter scientists' ideas about Alzheimer's disease—pointing to the liver instead of the brain as the source of the "amyloid" that deposits as brain plaques associated with this devastating condition. The findings could offer a relatively simple approach for Alzheimer's prevention and treatment.
The study was published online March 3 in The Journal of Neuroscience Research.
In the study, the scientists used a mouse model for Alzheimer's disease to identify genes that influence the amount of amyloid that accumulates in the brain. They found three genes that protected mice from brain amyloid accumulation and deposition. For each gene, lower expression in the liver protected the mouse brain. One of the genes encodes presenilin—a cell membrane protein believed to contribute to the development of human Alzheimer's.
"This unexpected finding holds promise for the development of new therapies to fight Alzheimer's," said Scripps Research Professor Greg Sutcliffe, who led the study. "This could greatly simplify the challenge of developing therapies and prevention." An estimated 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, including nearly half of people age 85 and older. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and over with this disease will range from 11 million to 16 million unless science finds a way to prevent or effectively treat it.
As for the future of this research, Sutcliffe says he hopes to find a partner and investors to move the work into clinical trials and new drug development.
Read the original press release.
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