A team from the Research Centre for the Brain at the VIB-KUL have explored a new avenue to prevent Alzheimers. These scientists say that it may be possible, to stabilise the interaction between the enzyme gamma-secretase and the peptide beta-amyloid, to prevent longer and more harmful fragments of beta-amyloid forming in the brain.
The brains of patients suffering from Alzheimers display protein aggregates and patches which are thought cause the death of nerve cells with the consequent memory loss and other symptoms. These patches are made up of protein beta-amyloid clusters, produced by the enzyme gamma-secretase. This enzyme is manufactured from various forms of beta-amyloid, and it is the long fragments which cause the most damage. Researchers throughout the world are consequently trying to find a means to avoid the formation of these aggregates or to break them down.
Scientists from Leuven demonstrated that the interaction gamma-secretase/beta-amyloid is a determiner of the type of fragment produced. The more stable the interaction, the greater the lapse of time available to break down long dangerous fragments of beta-amyloid into smaller sections. If the gamma-secretase/beta-amyloid link is weaker, protein fragments will be freed more quickly and there is less chance of breaking them down into smaller segments.
Researchers must now determine how this discovery translates into new patient treatments.