Scientists at VIB, Belgium’s biotechnology institute, have identified a molecule that they say could form the basis for a new therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.
A hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of amyloid plaques, which are abnormal accumulations of the β-amyloid protein between neurons. β-amyloid arises when the amyloid precursor protein is incorrectly cut by the γ-secretase enzyme complex. Although drugs acting on this target are in development they have run up against toxic side effects. The VIB researchers found that deactivating one variant, Aph1B γ-secretase, in Alzheimer mice reduces the formation of plaques, without causing harmful side effects.
γ-secretase is also involved in the onset of certain cancers, leading the researchers to suggest variants of γ-secretase could lead to new insights here as well.