Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemical Engineers Suggest Alzheimer's Onset Tied To Cholesterol, Brain Chemicals

Date:
December 10, 2001
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
A group of unlikely Alzheimer's researchers -- chemical engineers in Texas A&M University's Dwight Look College of Engineering -- are developing new understanding of how the disease robs Alzheimer's sufferers of their memory and reason. They've also found hints of new ways to eventually prevent its onset.

COLLEGE STATION, December 6 - Few people can look Alzheimer's disease in the face without flinching. Alzheimer's takes from people the things they value most: intellect, emotion, independence, hope -- and eventually, life itself. Now, a group of unlikely Alzheimer's researchers -- chemical engineers in Texas A&M University's Dwight Look College of Engineering -- are developing new understanding of how the disease robs Alzheimer's sufferers of their memory and reason. They've also found hints of new ways to eventually prevent its onset.

Laboratory studies conducted by chemical engineer Theresa Good, an Assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Ph.D. students Dawn L. Rymer and Steven S. Wang, suggest that Alzheimer's onset and the damage it causes to memory and cognitive abilities are tied to two substances: cholesterol (the same cholesterol doctors say people have too much of) and a complex chemical called ganglioside GM-1 -- found in the brain cells it attacks.

Their work centers on an important characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, a build-up of masses of protein, known as senile plaques. These plaques attach, or bind, to neurons -- specialized cells that allow information to move from place to place in the brain. When the plaques attach to the neurons, it causes a biochemical process to begin that eventually kills the neurons. Loss of neurons is what brings on the disease's characteristic loss of memory and cognitive abilities. High levels of either cholesterol or ganglioside GM-1 seem to make it easy for the plaques to attach to neurons.

The good news is that Good's research also suggests that reducing the amount of either cholesterol or ganglioside GM-1 interferes with the plaque's ability to attach to the neurons. In fact, simply reducing the amount of cholesterol in the cells seems to block attachment by almost all of the plaque.

Good and her students used a well-known chemical engineering test called a diffusion study to understand how this process works. They also used analytical techniques such as image analysis and Mathematical modeling of molecules -- techniques more familiar to chemical engineers than biochemists or molecular biologists -- to carry out their studies.

A lot of research remains to be done before the work done by Good and her colleagues is translated into medications that can prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease.

*The results of her studies must be confirmed by other scientists.

*New medications must be developed, and they must be tested in laboratory animals, then in humans.

*Finally, the indications will have to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

In the meantime, what is Good's advice to people who want to boost their odds against developing Alzheimer's? Use diet to reduce cholesterol levels.

"Drink your red wine, eat your oatmeal and throw out your butter," she says.

Additional sources of information:

* http://www-che.tamu.edu/CHEN/Faculty/good/

* http://www-che.tamu.edu/CHEN/Faculty/good/AD.HTM


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Chemical Engineers Suggest Alzheimer's Onset Tied To Cholesterol, Brain Chemicals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210072308.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2001, December 10). Chemical Engineers Suggest Alzheimer's Onset Tied To Cholesterol, Brain Chemicals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210072308.htm
Texas A&M University. "Chemical Engineers Suggest Alzheimer's Onset Tied To Cholesterol, Brain Chemicals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210072308.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins