4 New Concepts in Alzheimer Disease

May 4, 2015
Alisa G. Woods, PhD

Proteins linked in a pathway, drugs that may prevent memory loss, the positive role of sleep, a new memory app-check out these latest new concepts in AD diagnosis and treatment.

A new concept of Alzheimer disease (AD) that links proteins, drugs that block brain arginine prevent memory loss, the positive role of sleep in AD, a new memory app-these are the latest new concepts in AD diagnosis and treatment.

 

Turn the pages to find out more:

Protein Pathway Could Reconceptualize Alzheimer

A concept of AD that links proteins together in a pathway has been proposed by researchers from the University of Cambridge.

The researchers studied stem cells taken from the skin of persons with AD and differentiated them into neurons.

Using medications that increase or decrease beta-amyloid processing, they found that processing from amyloid precursor protein (APP) may be directly linked to tau levels.

The research underscores the possible use of stem cells in research and points toward possible normal as well as pathological functioning of beta-amyloid and tau in the nervous system.

APP metabolism affects tau levels and may be targeted in future therapeutic interventions for AD.

Exploring the Role of Arginine in AD

Previous drugs targeting beta-amyloid, the main implicated culprit in AD, have demonstrated limited success.

Previous research on AD mouse models demonstrated low brain arginine.

Duke researchers have found that mice with experimental AD (CVN-AD mice) have brains that consume excessive arginine via the enzyme arginase.

Drugs that blocked brain arginine consumption via a specific immune system pathway prevented memory loss and brain cell death in the AD mice.

Future studies of the strategy to target arginine consumption will proceed, perhaps ultimately also in humans.

Sleep Restores Memory in a Fly Model of AD

Numerous studies have linked sleep to memory.

A Drosophila (fruit fly) mutant that lacks a sleep promoting agent and also has memory problems has been studied by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

The researchers used 3 techniques to restore sleep in the flies:

  • Brain cell stimulation.
  • Increasing sleep promoting proteins.
  • Giving the flies a medication that increased sleep.

In all cases, the increase in sleep of about 3 or 4 hours daily also improved memory in the flies.

The study has implications for the positive role of sleep in AD and reinforces that targeting sleep-related proteins may be a strategy for future AD treatments.

An App to Remember

Smartphones and tablets can be used to help persons with AD remember.

Samsung has released a “Backup” memory app to help persons with AD remember family members.

The app detects nearby family members and identifies their name and relationship to the person with AD.

Future versions of the app will include the names of nearby locations, using GPS.

Take-aways:

A newly proposed concept of AD links proteins together in a pathway.

Drugs that blocked brain arginine consumption via a specific immune system pathway prevented memory loss and brain cell death in AD mice.

A study of fruit flies has implications for the positive role of sleep in AD and targeting sleep-related proteins for AD treatments in humans.

A new memory app helps persons with AD remember family members.