Alzheimer’s Disease Halted in Mice

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Alzheimer’s disease represents 60% of all cases of dementia. Recent studies predict a great increase in the number of Alzheimer’s cases.

The disease is caused by anomalous deposits of the Amyloid-ß protein, which leads to a loss of synaptic connection between synapses. Recently, researchers have found an antibody that blocks this synaptic disintegration. This is good news for Alzheimer’s patients, as it may mean they will be able to fend off early cognitive decline associated with the disease.

In an article published March 7th in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists at UCL have discovered antibodies that block the protein Dkk1, suppressing the toxicity of Amyloid-ß. Leading the study was professor of UCL Department of Cell and Development Biology Patricia Salinas. She said, “These novel findings raise the possibility that targeting this secreted Dkk1 protein could offer an effective treatment to protect synapses against the toxic effect of Amyloid-ß. Importantly, these results raise the hope for a treatment and perhaps the prevention of cognitive decline early in Alzheimer’s disease.”

In the brains of those with Alzheimer’s, elevated levels of Dkk1 are found. The research team at UCL has uncovered the significance of this. Amyloid-ß causes production of Dkk1. This protein dismantles synapses in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

The team conducted experiments on mice to observe the progression of synaptic disintegration in the event of Amyloid-ß exposure by using brain slices. They compared these to models who had been administered the antibody to see how many synapses survived. The results revealed that neurons exposed to the antibody remained healthy. Professor Salinas commented, “This research identifies Dkk1 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Simon Ridley, head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “By understanding what happens in the brain during Alzheimer’s, we stand a better chance of developing new treatments that could make a real difference to people with the disease. Studies like this are an essential part of that process, but more work is needed if we are to take these results from the lab bench to the clinic. Dementia can only be defeated through research, and with the numbers of people affected by the condition soaring, we urgently need to invest in research now.” Dr. Ridley’s advice will be followed in the coming months, as the body of research into the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s continues to grow.

Works Cited

“Specific Antibodies Halt Alzheimer’s Disease in Mice”. (March 7, 2012). Neuroscience News. March 8, 2012.



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