Discovery may assist future treatment of Alzheimer’s

Thursday 28 February 2008

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.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said, “A better understanding of the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain will enable scientists to develop tools to diagnose Alzheimer’s accurately in the early stages and then give future treatments that halt the disease before the brain is damaged.

“Delaying Alzheimer’s disease even for a little while can be a real benefit to the quality of life of both patients and their carers.

“We desperately need more money for research to help find a cure to this devastating disease.”

The latest finding is published tomorrow in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.







About the Alzheimer’s disease and the Alzheimer’s Research Trust

There are 56,000 people in Scotland with dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust provides free information to the public on Alzheimer’s and the treatments currently available: phone 01223 843304;

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal, unavoidable part of getting older, but a fatal and incurable brain disease.

Alzheimer’s research is severely under-funded – only £11 is spent on UK research annually per patient, compared with £289 for people with cancer yet the number of people with these conditions is similar.

There are currently 700,000 people with Alzheimer’s in the UK. The number of people with dementia is projected to double within a generation.

Care services for Alzheimer’s disease costs the UK more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust is the UK’s leading research charity for Alzheimer’s and related causes of dementia. It relies on donations from the public to fund its vital research.

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Research Trust contact the Press Office at 01223 843304.


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]
Ref:  Alzheimers new protein 280208
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