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Researchers discover 'new approach to treating Alzheimer's'

Researchers discover 'new approach to treating Alzheimer's'
22nd April 2014

Researchers believe they may have discovered a new approach to tackling Alzheimer's disease.

The scientists have written a report, published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, about what they call "pharmacologic chaperones", which could aid in the development of treatments.

One of the key hallmarks of Alzheimer's is the amyloid-beta, which can decrease the retromer levels. Previous research has also shown the opposite is true - higher retromer levels can see a fall in amyloid-beta.

The pharmacologic chaperone compounds are found to increase the numbers of retromer, giving researchers a different avenue to explore potential therapies.

Dr Scott Small, lead author of the study and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, was positive about their findings.

He said this new approach "may prove to be safer and more effective than conventional treatments for neurologic disease, which typically target single proteins".

R55 is the name given to the chaperone that can benefit retromer levels, after more than 100 different compounds were tested by Dr Small and his team.

Approximately a quarter of them were found to have potential, but R55 showed more than any other and it was this substance the researchers decided to investigate further.

Dr Small said: "Our findings identify a novel class of pharmacologic agents that are designed to treat neurologic disease by targeting a defect in cell biology, rather than a defect in molecular biology."

The team used mouse models for their research, by implementing the R55 compound into the hippocampus region of the brain, which is connected to memory and learning.

R55 not only showed significant growth of retromer levels in mice with Alzheimer's symptoms, but also in healthy models too.

There were originally concerns the compound would have a toxic effect on the brain, but that turned out not to be the case.

The news will be welcomed by the UK's Alzheimer's community, where approximately 800,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease.

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