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Role of CatB protein in Alzheimer's discovered

21st September 2006

Further steps have been made in the hope to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers have discovered that an enzyme found naturally in the brain – Cathepsin B (CatB) – appears to be a key player in protecting against Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published in the journal Neuron, concludes that the enzyme's mechanism may fail in some forms of the disease and that drugs that enhance the activity of CatB could therefore be an exciting step in forming treatments.

"Our findings suggest that inhibition or loss of CatB function could interfere with its protective function and promote the development of Alzheimer's, whereas over-expression of CatB could counteract AB [the protein that forms the amyloid plaques typical of Alzheimer's] accumulation and aggregation," says the report.

"Thus, pharmacological activation of CatB could downregulate AB1-42 [a particular form of the AB protein] assemblies through C-terminal truncation, offering an approach to the treatment of Alzheimer's."

According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are currently about 412,500 people in the UK with the disease.