Mayo Research Advance Alzheimer's Clue May Be in Protein

Article excerpt

A Jacksonville scientist has written a study that offers new

information about a substance seen in the brain and blood of

people with Alzheimer's disease.

Steven G. Younkin, director of research at Mayo Clinic

Jacksonville, collaborated with other researchers on the study,

which has been published in the August issue of Nature Medicine.

Scientists have known that one of the earliest changes in the

brains of people with Alzheimer's is an accumulation of a

substance called amyloid beta protein 42 (ABeta42).

That has been true of the 1 percent of Alzheimer's patients who

have an inherited, earlyonset form of the disease, and the 99

percent with the noninherited form.

The study follows a string of research on the inherited forms

of the disease, which showed that mutations in one gene, the APP

gene, increased the secretion of ABeta42.

The study showed there was also increased secretion of ABeta42

in Alzheimer's patients with mutations in two other genes, the

presenilin 1 and presenilin 2 genes.

In essence, the study adds important evidence to support the

view that the appearance of ABeta42 is a pre-cursor to

Alzheimer's and not an aftereffect, Younkin said.

"It's a big advance," he said.

The study also suggests that a good way to attack Alzheimer's

is to develop drugs that prevent ABeta42 from accumulating,

Younkin said.

Some pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop compounds

to do that, though those drugs are early in their development,

Younkin said. …