Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel protein fragments may protect against Alzheimer's

Date:
May 13, 2014
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Alzheimer's research has centered on trying to understand the protective or regenerative properties of brain cells as an avenue for treating the widespread disease. Now a researcher has discovered novel protein fragments that have proven protective properties for cognitive functioning. Her findings have the potential to serve as a pipeline for new drug candidates to treat the disease.

The devastating loss of memory and consciousness in Alzheimer's disease is caused by plaque accumulations and tangles in neurons, which kill brain cells. Alzheimer's research has centered on trying to understand the pathology as well as the potential protective or regenerative properties of brain cells as an avenue for treating the widespread disease.

Related Articles


Now Prof. Illana Gozes, the incumbent of the Lily and Avraham Gildor Chair for the Investigation of Growth Factors and director of the Adams Super Center for Brain Studies at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and a member of Tel Aviv University's Sagol School of Neuroscience, has discovered novel protein fragments that have proven protective properties for cognitive functioning.

In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Prof. Gozes examined the protective effects of two newly discovered protein fragments in mice afflicted with Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms. Her findings have the potential to serve as a pipeline for new drug candidates to treat the disease.

NAP time for Alzheimer's

"Several years ago we discovered that NAP, a snippet of a protein essential for brain formation, which later showed efficacy in Phase 2 clinical trials in mild cognitive impairment patients, a precursor to Alzheimer's," said Prof. Gozes. "Now, we're investigating whether there are other novel NAP-like sequences in other proteins. This is the question that led us to our discovery."

Prof. Gozes' research focused on the microtubule network, a crucial part of cells in our bodies. Microtubules act as a transportation system within nerve cells, carrying essential proteins and enabling cell-to-cell communications. But in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, ALS, and Parkinson's, this network breaks down, hindering motor abilities and cognitive function.

"NAP operates through the stabilization of microtubules -- tubes within the cell which maintain cellular shape. They serve as 'train tracks' for movement of biological material," said Prof. Gozes. "This is very important to nerve cells, because they have long processes and would otherwise collapse. In Alzheimer's disease, these microtubules break down. The newly discovered protein fragments, just like NAP before them, work to protect microtubules, thereby protecting the cell."

Down the tubes

In her new study, Prof. Gozes and her team looked at the subunit of the microtubule -- the tubulin -- and the protein TAU (tubulin-associated unit), important for assembly and maintenance of the microtubule. Abnormal TAU proteins form the tangles that contribute to Alzheimer's; increased tangle accumulation is indicative of cognitive deterioration. Prof. Gozes decided to test both the tubulin and the TAU proteins for NAP-like sequences. After confirming NAP-like sequences in both tubulin subunits and in TAU, she tested the fragments in tissue cultures for nerve-cell protecting properties against amyloid peptides, the cause of plaque build up in Alzheimer patients' brains.

"From the tissue culture, we moved to a 10-month-old transgenic mouse model with frontotemporal dementia-like characteristics, which exhibits TAU pathology and cognitive decline," said Prof. Gozes. "We tested one compound -- a tubulin fragment -- and saw that it protected against cognitive deficits. When we looked at the 'dementia'-afflicted brain, there was a reduction in the NAP parent protein, but upon treatment with the tubulin fragment, the protein was restored to normal levels."

Prof. Gozes and her team also measured the brain-to-body mass ratio, an indicator of brain degeneration, and saw a significant decrease in the mouse model compared to normal mice. Following the introduction of the tubulin fragments, however, the mouse's brain to body ratio returned to normal. "We clearly see here the protective effect of the treatment," said Prof. Gozes. "We witnessed the restorative and protective effects of totally new protein fragments, derived from proteins critical to cell function, in tissue cultures and on animal models."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Illana Gozes et al. Novel Tubulin and Tau Neuroprotective Fragments Sharing Structural Similarities with the Drug Candidate NAP (Davuentide). Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, May 2014 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-131664

Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Novel protein fragments may protect against Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152955.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2014, May 13). Novel protein fragments may protect against Alzheimer's. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152955.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Novel protein fragments may protect against Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152955.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) Artist Nickolay Lamm's Kickstarter-funded Lammily doll, based on his 'What Would Barbie Look Like as a Real Woman' project, is finally available to buy. Jen Markham explains how the doll's realistic proportions are going over with a test group of second-graders who are used to the impossible measurements of Barbie dolls. Video provided by Buzz60
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