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:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, ... at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health ... annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World ... with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center ... with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... offering micro-osteoperforation for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all ... brackets , AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... EB Medicine presented ... in Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. The awards honor the ... Emergency Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice. , “With this award, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... National recruitment firm ... sciences executive with extensive sequencing and genomics experience, as Vice President of North American ... Hill will be responsible for leading the sales team in the commercialization of the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 The Academy ... of recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical companies ... with entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, a ... "value" of new medicines. The recommendations address ... not appear on the drug label, a prohibition that ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition ... report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the world ... in the report includes the following: , ... by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , World ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Belgium , June 24, 2016 ... the appointment of Dr. Edward Futcher ... Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher was ... Nominations and Governance Committees.  As a non-executive member ... independent expertise and strategic counsel to VolitionRx in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: