Calpain Inhibitors, a Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease
Today's treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) are simply treat the symptoms without arresting the disease. The next generation of drugs may delay the onset or slow the progression by acting on the cause(s) of the illness. Evidence suggests that the impairment of synaptic communication between neurons may significantly contribute to the symptoms and progressive deterioration associated with AD. Possible candidates as causes of AD are a particular type of proteins called calpains. These proteins have shown the ability to destroy most of the cellular protein pool at abnormally high calcium levels and to regulate the production of beta-amyloid precursor protein, one of the neuropathologic hallmarks of the disease. In so doing, they may be responsible for mediating the early molecular events of the illness. Dr. Battaglia is investigating how a treatment with calpain inhibitors may restore normal communication between synaptic transmission and thereby slow the progression of the disease. Calpain inhibitors have already been used in the therapy of various other diseases. Analyzing the effects of calpain inhibitors in animal models of Alzheimer's might help to identify a new treatment for AD.