Scientists may have found way to clear the brain of toxic chemicals responsible for Alzheimer’s


By Luke Andrews Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

16:22 24 Aug 2022, updated 17:22 24 Aug 2022

  • In Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid beta proteins accumulate in the brain and clump together
  • But researchers say they may have found a way to clear them up by increasing levels of another protein
  • In a study in mice that had been genetically engineered to make more amyloid beta, they found that those compounds that increased levels of aquaporin 4 made protein faster.
  • About 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every year

A research team may have found a new way to remove harmful proteins in the brain that cause cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, opening the door to new treatments for the devastating conditions.

Experts believe that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by amyloid beta proteins that build up in the brain and clump together, causing tell-tale symptoms such as memory loss and loss of general cognitive function.

Research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found that increasing levels of a single protein — aquaporin 4 — could help clear them.

In a study of mice genetically engineered to make more amyloid beta, they found that those given compounds that increased aquaporin 4 levels cleared the harmful proteins faster than those given a placebo or inert liquid.

About 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease each year, and 120,000 die from the disease each year. The study suggests that having more aquaporin 4 may help prevent — but not cure — the condition. However, it is not clear what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but some scientists suggest that there is not a build-up of amyloid beta behind it in all cases.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, say they’ve found that increasing the levels of a protein in the brain can remove other proteins that cause dementia

In the study — published Wednesday in the journal Brain — scientists began studying how aquaporin 4 was made in the brain.

Every now and then this protein is generated with what they describe as a ‘tail’ at the end.

Initially, the scientists thought this was just a fluke due to an error in the way the protein was generated.

Heart scan in old age could reveal your risk of dementia in the next decade

Simple heart scans may be able to predict your risk of being diagnosed with dementia within a decade, a study suggests.

Researchers found that older people with abnormalities in their left atrium were one-third more likely to develop the disease — even if they showed no sign of heart problems.

It suggests that scans normally only used for people with suspected heart disease or heart attack patients could help determine who is most at risk for dementia.

The left atrium helps pump oxygenated blood to vital organs, including the brain. If the chamber is faulty, it can reduce blood flow to the brain – a risk of dementia.

Atrial cardiopathy is the term for a variety of conditions that can cause the left atrium to malfunction.

It can lead to strokes and irregular heartbeat, two complications that have also been linked to dementia.

But the study of more than 5,000 American adults in their 70s concluded that atrial cardiopathy was an “independent risk factor.”

The researchers, led by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said it could help inform “new interventional strategies.”

But research soon found that genes that code for this change are found in several species.

Tests showed that it is also normally located around supporting cells – called astrocytes – that are near blood vessels. They said this was the “perfect place” to be when used to flush out unwanted substances — like amyloid beta.

To test the theory, they increased levels of aquaporin 4 in mice that had been genetically engineered to make more amyloid beta.

dr. Darshan Sapkota, the biologist who led the study, screened 2,560 compounds that could boost production.

He found two that could help: apigenin – normally found in chamomile, parsley, onions and other plants – and sulfaquinoxaline – an antibiotic used by vets.

In the study, mice were then given apigenin, sulfaquinoxaline, or a placebo.

The results showed that those who received the compounds cleared amyloid beta faster than those who didn’t.

It was not clear how the substances were administered to mice, either through supplements or through injections.

The scientists said it was not safe for people to consume the antibiotic sulfaquinoxaline without a prescription.

Although apigenin is available as a dietary supplement, they also warned against consuming large amounts because it is not known how much gets into the brain.

The scientists are now looking for new compounds that would influence the production of aquaporin 4 to conduct further trials – and eventually human trials if they are shown to be safe.

But scientists aren’t clear about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease — which affects about six million Americans.

The accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain is the prevailing hypothesis, as the plaques impair communication between cells. But some papers suggest that – while this is related to the condition – it may not actually cause it.

A University of California, San Diego study published in 2020 of 700 people is one of those studies suggesting that in some cases amyloid beta was linked to the condition rather than the cause.

dr. John Cirrito, a neurologist who was also involved in the study, said: “There’s a lot of data that says reducing amyloid levels by just 20 to 25 percent stops amyloid buildup, at least in mice, and the effects we’re having.” saw were in that baseball field.

“That tells me that this could be a new approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases involving protein aggregation in the brain.”

“There’s nothing to say that this process is specific to amyloid beta. For example, it may also improve alpha-synuclein clearance, which could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.’

The team is now working on discovering drugs that would affect aquaporin 4 production by looking at sulfaquinoxaline and other compounds.

Sapkota added: ‘We are looking for something that can be quickly translated to the clinic.

“Just knowing that it can be targeted by a drug at all is a helpful hint that there will be something we can use.”

The research was funded in part by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.

Sapkota led the study while a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University, but is now an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, currently affecting approximately six million Americans.

It is thought to be caused by the abnormal buildup of proteins in and around brain cells, including amyloid beta. Others involved are known as tau.

Scientists aren’t sure why these accumulate in some people, but it could be related to genetic factors, diet, or head injuries, among other things.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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