Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New enzyme to fight Alzheimer's disease identified

Date:
September 17, 2012
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
An enzyme could represent a powerful new tool for combating Alzheimer’s disease.

An enzyme that could represent a powerful new tool for combating Alzheimer's disease has been discovered by researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The enzyme -- known as BACE2 -- destroys beta-amyloid, a toxic protein fragment that litters the brains of patients who have the disease.

The findings were published online Sept. 17 in the science journal Molecular Neurodegeneration.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common memory disorder. It affects more that 5.5 million people in the United States. Despite the disorder's enormous financial and personal toll, effective treatments have not yet been found.

The Mayo research team, led by Malcolm A. Leissring, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, made the discovery by testing hundreds of enzymes for the ability to lower beta-amyloid levels. BACE2 was found to lower beta-amyloid more effectively than all other enzymes tested. The discovery is interesting because BACE2 is closely related to another enzyme, known as BACE1, involved in producing beta-amyloid.

"Despite their close similarity, the two enzymes have completely opposite effects on beta-amyloid -- BACE1 giveth, while BACE2 taketh away," Dr. Leissring says.

Beta-amyloid is a fragment of a larger protein, known as APP, and is produced by enzymes that cut APP at two places. BACE1 is the enzyme responsible for making the first cut that generates beta-amyloid. The research showed that BACE2 cuts beta-amyloid into smaller pieces, thereby destroying it, instead. Although other enzymes are known to break down beta-amyloid, BACE2 is particularly efficient at this function, the study found.

Previous work had shown that BACE2 can also lower beta-amyloid levels by a second mechanism: by cutting APP at a different spot from BACE1. BACE2 cuts in the middle of the beta-amyloid portion, which prevents beta-amyloid production.

"The fact that BACE2 can lower beta-amyloid by two distinct mechanisms makes this enzyme an especially attractive candidate for gene therapy to treat Alzheimer's disease," says first author Samer Abdul-Hay, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

The discovery suggests that impairments in BACE2 might increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. This is important because certain drugs in clinical use -- for example, antiviral drugs used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) -- work by inhibiting enzymes similar to BACE2.

Although BACE2 can lower beta-amyloid by two distinct mechanisms, only the newly discovered mechanism -- beta-amyloid destruction -- is likely relevant to the disease, the researchers note. This is because the second mechanism, which involves BACE2 cutting APP, does not occur in the brain. The researchers have obtained a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether blocking beta-amyloid destruction by BACE2 can increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease in a mouse model of the disease.

The research was supported by a grant from the Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust Fund in affiliation with the American Federation for Aging Research.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Samer O Abdul-Hay, Tomoko Sahara, Melinda McBride, Dongcheul Kang, Malcolm A Leissring. Identification of BACE2 as an avid SZ-amyloiddegrading protease. Molecular Neurodegeneration, 2012; 7 (1): 46 DOI: 10.1186/1750-1326-7-46

Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "New enzyme to fight Alzheimer's disease identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917151723.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2012, September 17). New enzyme to fight Alzheimer's disease identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917151723.htm
Mayo Clinic. "New enzyme to fight Alzheimer's disease identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917151723.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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