Published on: March 1, 2012
by Mark Hollmer for Fierce Biotech Research
Even as researchers become increasingly concerned about finding a drug that can manage or defeat Alzheimer’s disease, scientists at Canada’s Simon Fraser University bet the answer comes down to sugar.
Rather than reaching for high-sugar foods to protect your brain, however, their discovery here is more elemental.
Keep sugar levels stable in the brain protein tau, the scientists believe, and the action could slow Alzheimer’s progression, or even prevent the disease from happening. What’s more, they’ve come up with a chemical inhibitor that might prevent depletion of those vital sugar molecules.
Consider that we’re years away from seeing if researchers can repeat these promising results in larger animal trials and then in people. Mouse trials can be encouraging but are not always repeatable in humans for all kinds of genetic reasons. At the same time, with all the increasing U.S. and global focus on developing a viable Alzheimer’s treatment, the finding remains interesting because it offers a new targeting approach.
Simon Fraser chemistry professor David Vocadlo and 6 other researchers build on earlier research that found tau in brains of patients with Alzheimer’s with virtually no sugar attached, and that the naturally occurring O-GlcNAcase enzyme drained the supply.
The tau clumps are important because they offer an Alzheimer’s warning sign and worsen as the disease does, the researchers explain. And so, Vocadlo’s team created a chemical compound called Thiamet-G and tested it in mice, having them drink it daily in water. They found that mice drinking the special concoction blocked the enzyme from taking vital tau sugar away, developed less tau clumps than their brethren who didn’t ingest the compound, and kept their brains in healthier shape.
Our event with Dr. Wendy Suzuki explaining how higher levels of physical fitness are associated with better brain structure and higher cognitive function. Highlights video.
Our event with Dr. Wendy Suzuki explaining how higher levels of physical fitness are associated with better brain structure and higher cognitive function. Full video.
Two blood markers, phosphorylated tau 217 (p-tau217) and phosphorylated tau 181 (p-tau181), showed strong diagnostic performances for Alzheimer’s disease and discriminated Alzheimer’s from frontotemporal lobar denervation (FTLD) syndromes and normal cognition, a retrospective study...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.