Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new, innovative approach to the treatment of Alzheimer's. Lab mice treated with the new therapy recovered from the illness.
What they have discovered is a way to correct the flaw in the gene that causes Alzheimer's.
Researchers Professor Danny Michaelson and doctoral student Anat Bam-Kagan focused on ApoE4, a specific gene found in 60% of Alzheimer patients.
"For 20 years, researchers around the world have been trying to find an effective way to treat Alzheimer's, but without any luck," says Michaelson. "Scientists have known that 60% of patients carry the bad ApoE4 gene. However, the gene's activity has never been studied in depth until now.
"In recent years, mouse models with ApoE4 have been developed, and they did show pathological traits similar to those in Alzheimer's patients: memory loss and learning disabilities, a fewer number of connections between nerve cells in the brain and additional damage to brain tissue."
Researchers in Michaelson's lab discovered a correlation between the protein manufactured by the ApoE4 gene and a decreased amount of fats, when compared to the protein manufactured by the normal version of the gene, ApoE3.
"We still didn't know if this difference was of any importance when it comes to Alzheimer's, but we looked for a way to increase the amount of fats connecting to the defective protein, to make it more similar to the normal protein," Michaelson says.
"We decided to focus on the 'glue' that binds the fat molecules to the protein molecules -- a system called ABCA1 -- and tried to increase its efficiency."
At this stage, the researchers contacted a US biotechnology company called Artery Therapeutics. It has discovered a substance that improves the function of the so-called glue.
"We injected the substance into mice with the faulty gene, which are similar to Alzheimer's patients, and we saw that it did in fact penetrate the brain."
Within a short time, researchers noticed that the new substance was correcting the cognitive and pathological issues in the model mice, in effect curing them of Alzheimer's.
"We believe our study opens up new directions for the development of effective treatment of Alzheimer's," Michaelson says, adding that it is important to expand research on the ApoE4 gene, which "plays a central role in the disease, and constitutes a clear target in the development of a cure."
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=36961