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Worming our way to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease
Date:3/7/2013

Philadelphia, PA, March 7, 2013 According to a 2012 World Health Organization report, over 35 million people worldwide currently have dementia, a number that is expected to double by 2030 (66 million) and triple by 2050 (115 million). Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, has no cure and there are currently only a handful of approved treatments that slow, but do not prevent, the progression of symptoms.

New drug development, no matter the disease, is a slow, expensive, and risky process. Thus, innovative techniques to study and assess the possibilities of already-existing drugs for different diseases can be used to alleviate the traditional burdens of cost and time. Detailed in their new article in Biological Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Washington, led by Dr. Brian Kraemer, have developed an exciting new approach to screening potential new treatments for Alzheimer's disease using C. elegans, a small transparent worm.

Their focus was on tau, a protein involved in maintaining brain cell structure. In Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, tau protein becomes abnormally modified and forms clumps of protein called aggregates. These aggregates are a hallmark of the dying nerve cells in Alzheimer's disease and other related disorders. Diseases with abnormal tau are called tauopathies.

Dr. Kraemer's lab previously developed a worm model for tauopathy by expressing human tau in C. elegans nerve cells. This model has behavioral abnormalities, accumulates abnormal tau protein, and exhibits loss of nerve cellsall of which are general features of Alzheimer's disease.

Using their worm model for this study, they screened a library of 1,120 drugs approved for human use and tested each at three different concentrations to identify compounds that suppress the effects of abnormal tau aggregation.

"We have identified six compounds capable of reliably alleviating tau induc
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Contact: Rhiannon Bugno
Biol.Psych@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-0880
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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