Israeli researchers discover a way to correct the genetic flaw that causes Alzheimer’s.
• Lab mice who were treated with Tel Aviv University’s new therapy, recovered from the illness. Researcher, “We believe our study opens up new directions for the development of effective treatment of Alzheimer’s.”
By Ilan Gattegno
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new approach to innovative treatment of Alzheimer’s, providing hope to those with the degenerative disease. They have found a way to correct the flaw in the gene that causes Alzheimer’s. Lab mice treated with the new therapy recovered from the illness.
Researchers Professor Danny Michaelson and doctoral student Anat Bam-Kagan focused on the ApoE4 gene, which is present in 60% of Alzheimer patients.
“For 20 years, researchers around the world have been trying to find an effective way of treating Alzheimer’s, but without any luck,” according to 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 found 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, similar to the kind seen in the brains of [Alzheimer’s] patients,” he said.
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 said. “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 biotechnology company Artery Therapeutics in the U.S., which 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 said, 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.
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