Protein that may protect against Alzheimer's identified

Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2009, 12:03 [IST]

Washington, Jan 7 (ANI): An international team of researchers have claimed that a protein, found in increased levels in the Alzheimer's brain, might actually protect against the neurodegenerative disease.

Researchers from Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) Biological Sciences Department, Armand-Frappier Institute and the University of Valladolid in Spain have successfully demonstrated the protective and reparative role of apolipoprotein D, or ApoD, in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhiemer's, Parkinson's, stroke and dementia.

In earlier studies, investigator Eric Rassart of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) had found increased levels of ApoD in the brains of people with several types of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's.

During the study including biological sciences Ph.D. student Sonia Do Carmo, the researchers used two types of genetically modified mice: one type with increased levels of ApoD in the brain and a second type with no ApoD.

The mice were then exposed to neurodegenerative agents. A group of the modified mice and a control group (unmodified) were exposed to paraquat, a widely used herbicide that has been shown to increase the risk of Parkinson's.

The same experiment was performed by injecting two groups with a virus that causes encephalitis.

They found that mice modified for increased levels of ApoD had the best outcomes, with a better ability to combat the diseases and a higher survival rate than the unmodified mice. On the other hand mice with no ApoD displayed the poorest outcomes.

These experiments serve to illustrate the protective and reparative role of this protein.

However, lead researcher Professor Eric Rassart of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) said further studies are required to translate it into effective drugs against neurodegenerative conditions.

"You cannot simply inject ApoD, as it has to enter the brain in order for it to be active. We have successfully demonstrated the role of ApoD, but now we need to understand the action of this protein," said Rassart,

"Only then will we be able to think about creating a drug to prevent these types of diseases and to slow their progression. All the same, this discovery by Sonia Do Carmo and her collaborators is a significant breakthrough, as we know very little about the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases," he added. (ANI)

 

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