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Potatoes May Hold Key To Alzheimer's Treatment

Date:
August 16, 2008
Source:
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Summary:
A virus that commonly infects potatoes bears a striking resemblance to one of the key proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease, and researchers have used that to develop antibodies that may slow or prevent the onset of AD.

Necrotic ringspots on a potato tuber (cultivar Nicola) due to Potato virus Y infection.
Credit: Karine CHARLET-RAMAGE & Camille KERLAN Laurent GLAIS & Camille KERLAN INRA-ENSA, Rennes, France

A virus that commonly infects potatoes bears a striking resemblance to one of the key proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and researchers have used that to develop antibodies that may slow or prevent the onset of AD.

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Studies in mice have demonstrated that vaccinations with the amyloid beta protein (believed to be a major AD contributor) to produce A antibodies can slow disease progression and improve cognitive function, possibly by promoting the destruction of amyloid plaques. Some early human trials have likewise been promising, but had to be halted due to the risk of autoimmune encephalitis.

One way to make Alzheimer's vaccinations safer would be to use a closely-related, but not human, protein as the vaccine, much like cowpox virus is used for smallpox immunizations.

In the August 15 Journal of Biological Chemistry, Robert Friedland and colleagues used this concept on an amyloid-like protein found in potato virus (PVY). They injected PVY into mice followed by monthly boosters for four months. The researchers found that the mice produced strong levels of antibodies that could attach to amyloid beta protein both in both solution and in tissue samples of Alzheimer's patients. And although the levels were lower, mice also developed A antibodies if given injections of PVY-infected potato leaf as opposed to purified PVY.

Friedland and colleagues note that potato virus is a fairly common infection that poses no risk to humans (many people have probably eaten PVY infected potatoes). While tests of PVY antibodies will ultimately determine how useful they can be, they may be a promising lead to treating this debilitating disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert P. Friedland, Jonathan M. Tedesco, Andrea Wilson, Craig Atwood, Mark Smith, George Perry and Michael Zagorski. Antibodies to Potato Virus Y Bind the Amyloid Beta Peptide. Journal of Biological Chemistry, August 15, 2008 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Potatoes May Hold Key To Alzheimer's Treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080815170629.htm>.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. (2008, August 16). Potatoes May Hold Key To Alzheimer's Treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080815170629.htm
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "Potatoes May Hold Key To Alzheimer's Treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080815170629.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

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