Breakthrough: New active pharmaceutical ingredient against Alzheimer's deposits

Breakthrough: New active pharmaceutical ingredient against Alzheimer's deposits

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New active ingredient against Alzheimer's deposits
Alzheimer's is still not curable. Accordingly, the therapy of the neurodegenerative disease has so far been limited to alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. But now South Korean researchers may have had a medical breakthrough. Because, as the team led by YoungSoo Kim currently reports in the journal "Nature Communications", it has discovered a molecule in mice that can remove the disease-causing deposits in the brain.

Most common form of dementia with unclear causes
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and is considered a typical age-related illness, which affects at least every third person over 90 years of age. According to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, around 700,000 people in Germany suffer from Alzheimer's, although the number is likely to double by 2050 in view of the demographic change. Characteristic of the serious illness of the brain is the increasing loss of mental performance, which causes typical symptoms such as forgetfulness, personality changes, speaking and orientation difficulties.

The exact causes of Alzheimer's are still not fully understood. What is certain, however, is that there are more and more characteristic protein deposits in the brain in the patients (“beta-amyloid peptides”), which from an expert's point of view play a central role in the development of the disease. The so-called "senile plaques" prevent the transmission of stimuli between the nerve cells, which means that their function is increasingly impaired and ultimately destroyed. New drugs that are used to treat incurable Alzheimer's disease are therefore aimed at preventing the formation of new deposits. So far, however, science has not yet been able to find a substance that destroys existing deposits.

Molecule can remove existing plaques
But scientists from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in Seoul may now have important insights for Alzheimer's therapy. As they report in the journal "Nature Communications", it was possible to significantly increase the memory performance of sick mice with the help of the molecule EPPS. In addition, it has been shown that the molecule can even remove existing plaques, said the team led by YoungSoo Kim from KIST.

The mental performance of the animals increases significantly
In a first step, the researchers tested the molecule in a test tube and recognized where the deposits were being destroyed. They then tested the effects of the molecule in an experiment with mice whose brains had Alzheimer-like deposits. It was shown that EPPS was able to prevent the formation of new plaques and even destroy existing deposits, whereupon the mental performance of the animals increased significantly.

"For the past three decades, there has been ongoing controversy as to whether amyloid beta (Aß) accumulation is a cause or, rather, an effect of Alzheimer's disease. In this study, we demonstrated that Alzheimer's-related learning and memory deficits in a transgenic mouse model improved with an agent that was able to break down Aß oligomers and fibrils. Therefore, our study supports the view that the accumulation of Aß is a direct driver of Alzheimer's symptoms, ”said the researchers in“ Nature Communications ”.

Transferability is questionable from an expert point of view
But can the positive effect also be transferred to humans? The neuropathologist Armin Giese from the University of Munich takes a critical look at this, because “in the experiments, significantly higher EPPS concentrations were used in the test tube than were ultimately measured in the brain of the mice. As the expert continues in conversation with the news agency “dpa”, it is therefore questionable “[…] whether the assumed mechanism of action of the substance in laboratory tests can also be applied to animal experiments or later in humans.” (No)

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