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Scientists discover molecule that could help to clear Alzheimer's brain proteins in mice

10-Dec-15
Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

Research has revealed that a new chemical could help to break down some forms of amyloid beta protein deposits in the brains of mice.

Amyloid beta is a toxic molecule found to build up to form plaques in the brain and is known to be one of the main indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.

Head of research at Alzheimer’s Society, James Pickett, said: “While new insights into potential ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease are welcome, in this case, it’s too early to say if this will one day benefit people living with Alzheimer’s.

“This study has found a new chemical that could help to clear some forms of amyloid, the toxic protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, so far this has only been shown in mice, which do not fully replicate several of the important changes that we see in the brains and behaviours of people with dementia.

“We are working to increase our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease all the time, and there are already a number of drugs in clinical testing that are targeted against amyloid. We hope that new findings will one day translate into real treatments for people living with dementia.”

The study conducted South Korean team led by Dr YoungSoo Kim at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul, used mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to investigate if a molecule, known as EPPS, could be added to their drinking water in order to help break down amyloid beta plaques.

Compared to mice in a controlled group who received normal drinking water, the EPPS mice were found to perform better when given tasks such as running through a maze, showing improvements to their learning ability and memory.

Furthermore, the EPPS mice were found to have less plaques in their brains at the end of the study than at the beginning, which was unfortunately not true for the controlled group of mice.

The research revealed that EPPS could be ingested orally and was not found to be toxic, though this would need further investigation. In addition, the study did not reveal how the molecule was able to break down the plaques.

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