Nav: Home

Boosting a cell-protecting protein may help slow Alzheimer's disease progression

March 02, 2017

A new study of Alzheimer's disease by Fiona Kerr and Linda Partridge at University College London, uses mouse and fruit fly models to show that Keap1, which inhibits the protective protein Nrf2, is a promising target for new preventative drugs for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Their findings are reported in a study published March 2nd, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

While doctors can treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after a patient shows symptoms, there are no drugs available to prevent the development of this devastating yet common disease, or to stop its progression. One protein of interest is Nrf2, which normally protects brain cells from stressful conditions but, for unknown reasons, Nrf2 levels decrease in the neurons of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Previous attempts to activate Nrf2 have created toxic side effects, so scientists used fruit fly models to investigate Keap1, an inhibitor of Nrf2. By blocking the interaction between Keap1 and Nrf2 in fly brains, researchers showed that they could prevent the damaging effects of amyloid-beta peptides, which create the characteristic plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. A chemical Keap1-Nrf2 disruptor also prevented amyloid toxicity in mouse nerve cells.

The study provides the first evidence that boosting Nrf2 by blocking its inhibitor, Keap1, can protect neurons from mice from the effects of the Alzheimer's-causing amyloid beta peptides. The findings suggest that compounds that block this interaction are worthy targets for the development of new drugs, perhaps with fewer side effects, to prevent Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Fiona Kerr adds: "As our population ages the incidence of dementia is increasing dramatically and there is an urgent need to find new drugs to protect nerve cells and halt the progression of the disease. Our findings are important because chemicals that block Keap1 increase activity of a cell protective protein called Nrf2, and so they have potential to prevent this nerve cell loss in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Our work is the first step in identifying Keap1 as an effective target to prevent neuronal damage in Alzheimer's. The humble fruit fly is a powerful tool to identify new genetic causes of human diseases, including neuronal degeneration, and our study demonstrates that these findings have the potential to lead to the development of new compounds that are effective in mammalian systems. More work is now required to develop these Keap1-Nrf2 disrupting chemicals as drugs for use in whole organisms and to test whether this approach can protect human nerve cells from the damage associated with Alzheimer's".
-end-


PLOS

Related Neurons Articles:

New tool to identify and control neurons
One of the big challenges in the Neuroscience field is to understand how connections and communications trigger our behavior.
Neurons that regenerate, neurons that die
In a new study published in Neuron, investigators report on a transcription factor that they have found that can help certain neurons regenerate, while simultaneously killing others.
How neurons use crowdsourcing to make decisions
When many individual neurons collect data, how do they reach a unanimous decision?
Neurons can learn temporal patterns
Individual neurons can learn not only single responses to a particular signal, but also a series of reactions at precisely timed intervals.
A turbo engine for tracing neurons
Putting a turbo engine into an old car gives it an entirely new life -- suddenly it can go further, faster.
More Neurons News and Neurons Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...