University of St Andrews

School of Biology News Centre

item 78
[28-02-2008 to 28-03-2008]

News Item:
Discovery may assist future treatment of Alzheimer's

A St Andrews' researcher has identified a new protein associated with the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The discovery may assist in developing future treatments for the disease, which currently affects around 700,000 people in the UK.

Neurobiologist Dr Frank Gunn-Moore found that increased amounts of a protein called endophilin I are linked to increased stress in the brain, which subsequently leads to brain cell death. Dr Gunn-Moore said, "Endophilin I is known to be involved in how nerve cells talk to each other. Our research has identified additional roles for endophilin I that link it to being an indicator for the progression of Alzheimer's disease." The research also found that increased amounts of endophilin I were an indicator for the interaction between amyloid beta, and a protein called ABAD. Amyloid builds up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. It forms plaques which can lead to brain cell death that causes memory loss and other devastating symptoms of dementia. The Amyloid/ABAD interaction has been previously identified as a marker for the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

"We know very little about the early stages of Alzheimer's disease before the amyloid plaques are formed. It may be that production of amyloid beta is the earliest event in Alzheimer's disease, so identification of early markers for amyloid beta would have strong implications for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease," Dr Gunn-Moore explained.

The research was carried out by Dr Gunn-Moore and PhD student Yimin Ren, alongside a team of international researchers at the University of Columbia, USA, led by Professor Shi Du Yan. The study was funded by the Alzheimer's Research Trust and the Medical Research Council.

see here for further details
contact: Prof Frank Gunn-Moore


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