The research published in the journal Brain shows that compounds that inhibit two cellular proteins can help clean up the plaques found in the brain of mice with Alzheimer’s disease. The proteins work inside the cell to remove toxic material.
The study suggests a possible biochemical approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease in people by enhancing the brain cells’ ability to clean up the toxic plaque that is a hallmark of the disease.
“Think of the cell as a house during spring cleaning,” Dr. Luigi Puglielli, of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center said. “You clean out the attic and clean up the basement, and put out the trash on the curb, but the trash truck never arrives and so the heaps of garbage get higher and higher.”
Puglielli’s group discovered a process that can be modified to improve the ability of brain cells to degrade toxic material.
Puglielli said researchers have a long way to go before testing in humans.
“The mice data are strong, but that doesn’t mean that compound nine will succeed in humans,” he said. “Typically, about 95 percent of compounds that work in vitro fail when you test them in mice. Of those that succeed, about the same percentage fails when you test them in humans.
The next step is to continue screening for more compounds that could help enhance brain cells’ ability to clean up unwanted proteins.