Navigation Links
Alzheimer's Research Spotlights Protein 'Tangles' in Brain

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Several new studies to be presented Tuesday at a major Alzheimer's conference describe progress in a series of immune-based therapies that target the tau protein, one of the two major proteins implicated in Alzheimer's disease.

As a focus of research, tau protein "tangles" have typically taken a backseat to another protein, the beta amyloid plaques that proliferate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

However, the new studies suggest that not only do some tau-focused therapies show promise, some treatments targeted against beta amyloid also affect tau.

William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association, called the new results "encouraging."

"These are two landmark lesions associated with Alzheimer's. We had thought that affecting one would affect the other," he said. "This suggests we're getting at the heart of the science, though we still have to show that [these approaches] reduce symptoms."

But another expert added a note of caution.

Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said that although attempts to battle beta amyloid and tau might yield treatment results down the line, both deposits "may be manifestations of the disease and not its origin." That comes back to a basic science question plaguing the Alzheimer's field: Do these protein accumulations actually cause Alzheimer's, or are they merely a result of another process?

Also, only one of the studies presented at the meeting was conducted in humans and only 10 humans at that -- meaning that the results should be considered very preliminary.

Still, scientists continue to unravel the mystery of Alzheimer's and what it does to the brain. There are currently no curative treatments for this form of dementia, which affects millions of people worldwide.

The findings, from American and international teams of researchers, are slated for presentation at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010 in Honolulu.

Two studies presented together found that treatments aimed at beta amyloid plaques might also tackle tau.

In one study, an antibody known as bapineuzumab -- which actually aims for beta amyloid plaques -- also reduced levels of an abnormal form of tau known as phospho-tau (P-tau) in spinal fluid. The study authors reported ties with drug makers Elan Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer.

Similarly, a second presentation showed that a compound known as AN1792 (made by Elan), by attacking beta amyloid plaques, also was associated with reductions in tau levels.

This trial involved continued follow-up on 10 patients involved in a trial that was halted in 2002 after some participants developed symptoms of brain inflammation.

All 10 patients had been immunized with AN1792. They were compared with 28 Alzheimer's patients who had not been immunized.

And finally, two other animal studies looked at immunization targeted directly at the tau protein.

One found that "passive immunization" with a compound known as the PHF1 antibody not only decreased tau levels but also symptoms in mice.

The study was partially supported by Applied Neurosolutions Inc. and the Alzheimer's Association.

And a group of European researchers reported developing a new rat model that enables researchers to study tau neurofibrillary tangles.

When immunized with an early version of a tau vaccine, the rats showed decreases in tau tangles with associated improvements in functioning, the researchers said.

But again, Kennedy cautioned that the promise from this type of research may still not pan out.

While he believes that this type of study should be pursued, "a lot of us think that both beta amyloid and tau are a blind alley, that something farther upstream may be causing Alzheimer's," Kennedy said.

There is another problem with the approach, though, in that humans make amyloid and tau normally. "Immunizing against naturally occurring natural constituents of the brain, it is a risk," Kennedy said.

More information

There's much more about Alzheimer's disease at the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURCES: William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer, Alzheimer's Association; Gary Kennedy, M.D., director of geriatric psychiatry, Montefiore Medical Center, New York, N.Y.; July 13, 2010, presentations, International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010, Honolulu

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Embedded Mobile & M2M Device revenues to Rise to Almost $19 Billion Globally by 2014, Says Juniper Research
2. 2010 HSR Impact Award recognizes surgical safety research
3. MSU launches first anti-counterfeiting research program
4. Researchers map all the fragile sites of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiaes genome
5. UH Case Medical Center researchers publish promising findings for advanced cervical cancer
6. Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
7. Family Research Council: Planned Parenthood Report Oversexualizes Ten-Year-Olds, Undermines Parental Authority
8. Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $1 Million to Drive Critical New Research Tools and Technologies in Parkinsons Drug Development
9. Luth Researchs IndicatorEDG(TM) Study Finds Americans Hopes of Achieving Their Dreams Are Fading
10. International Diabetes Federation awards $2 million to 9 global diabetes research projects
11. Gladstones Robert Mahley to receive Research!America advocacy award
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Alzheimer's Research Spotlights Protein 'Tangles' in Brain
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... An inventor, from Hopkinsville, Ky., thought ... at home, so he invented the patent-pending ELECTRONIC M.D. , The ELECTRONIC M.D. ... doing so, it could help to prevent potential overdose situations. As a result, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just announced a ... customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, customers will ... to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin the holidays, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: ... in Final Cut Pro X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add ... ProSidebar as a minimalist title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Consistent with the Radiology ... Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs meeting will showcase some of the best ... at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a pre-conference session on a collaborative ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... A simply groundbreaking television ... an interesting show that delves into an array of issues that are presently affecting ... benefit from open dialogue, this show is changing the subjects consumers focus on, one ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research ... addition of the "2016 Future Horizons and ... (TDM) Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive ... --> --> ... analysis of the Japanese therapeutic drug monitoring market, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Testing Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, ... their offering. --> ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: