Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alzheimer's Discovery Could Bring Early Diagnosis, Treatment Closer

Date:
May 23, 2009
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
A discovery offers new hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists report that the addition of a single phosphate to an amino acid in a key brain protein is a principal cause of Alzheimer's.

A discovery offers new hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Credit: iStockphoto

A discovery made by researchers at McGill University and the affiliated Lady Davis Research Institute for Medical Research at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital offers new hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on May 15, Dr. Hemant Paudel, his PhD student Dong Han and postdoctoral fellows Hamid Qureshi and Yifan Lu, report that the addition of a single phosphate to an amino acid in a key brain protein is a principal cause of Alzheimer's. Identifying this phosphate, one of up to two-dozen such molecules, could make earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's possible and might, in the longer term, lead to the development of drugs to block its onset.

The crucial protein, called a tau protein, is a normal part of the brain and central nervous system. But in Alzheimer's patients, tau proteins go out of control and form tangles that, along with senile plaques, are the primary cause of the degenerative disease.

Several years ago, it was discovered that tau proteins in normal brains contain only three to four attached phosphates, while abnormal tau in Alzheimer's patients have anywhere from 21 to 25 additional phosphates.

Paudel and his team have discovered that it is the addition of a single phosphate to the Ser202 amino acid within the tau brain protein that is the principal culprit responsible for Alzheimer's.

"The impact of this study is twofold," said Paudel, associate professor at McGill's Dept. of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and Project Director at the Bloomfield Centre for Research in Aging at the Lady Davis. "We can now do brain imaging at the earliest stages of the disease. We don't have to look for many different tau phosphates, just this single phosphate. The possibility of early diagnosis now exists.

"Second, the enzyme which puts this phosphate on the tau can be targeted by drugs, so therapies can be developed. This discovery gives us, for the first time, a clear direction towards the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's."

Paudel and his students worked for years to exclude the phosphates not directly responsible for causing Alzheimer's symptoms. They finally succeeded by working with FTDP-17, a genetic disease with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's, but transmitted via mutations. By genetically manipulating these mutations, they were able to prove that the phosphate on Ser202 almost single-handedly is responsible for the tau abnormalities that cause both FTDP-17 and Alzheimer's.

The disease leads to severe mental degeneration and almost-inevitable death, and there is no known cure, nor even a reliable technique for early diagnosis. A patient is diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's in the United States every 70 seconds, and deaths due to the disease have increased by a staggering 47 per cent since 2000. With the Baby Boomer population aging, those numbers are expected to explode even further in coming decades.

There are more than 5.3 million people with Alzheimer's in the United States, and more than 300,000 in Canada. Every one of those patients faces years of increasing mental incapacity followed by almost certain death, with no hope of treatment. The U.S. Alzheimer's Association has called the current situation a "crisis."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Dong Han, Hamid Y. Qureshi, Yifan Lu, and Hemant K. Paudel. Familial FTDP-17 Missense Mutations Inhibit Microtubule Assembly-promoting Activity of Tau by Increasing Phosphorylation at Ser202 in Vitro. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2009; 284 (20): 13422 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M901095200

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Alzheimer's Discovery Could Bring Early Diagnosis, Treatment Closer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090522111618.htm>.
McGill University. (2009, May 23). Alzheimer's Discovery Could Bring Early Diagnosis, Treatment Closer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090522111618.htm
McGill University. "Alzheimer's Discovery Could Bring Early Diagnosis, Treatment Closer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090522111618.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Newsy (July 17, 2014) Washington D.C.'s new laws decriminalizing small amount of marijuana went into effect Thursday. Here's how they work. 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