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Aiming at Multiple Alzheimer's Proteins May be Key to Success
Date:10/21/2008

CLARKSBURG, Md., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- An independent team of scientists is leading Alzheimer's disease research in a new, promising direction. Through a $1 million grant they received last year from Alzheimer's Disease Research, a program of the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF), Donald F. Weaver, M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada are leading a multi-site, multidisciplinary international effort to design a drug that might one day prevent the onset of this devastating disease.

In Alzheimer's disease, an accumulation of beta amyloid protein "plaques" around the brain's nerve cells and tau protein "tangles" within these cells is connected to a breakdown in cell communication and eventual cell death. Evidence suggests that both beta amyloid and tau play a role, but the research community has been split on the relative effect of these two proteins on the disease process. Further, many scientists are beginning to believe that future Alzheimer's therapies will involve multiple drugs targeted at different aspects of the disease, including both of these proteins. They theorize that "misfolding" of each protein changes its shape and natural function, and contributes profoundly to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Weaver and his colleagues from Canada, the U.S., and Belgium agree that the key to successful treatment may be to halt the build-up of both beta amyloid and tau, before they begin to affect the brain's nerve cells. "Alzheimer's disease is a complex ailment and may have overlapping causes," explains Dr. Weaver. "Disrupting beta amyloid misfolding may work for some people, but not others. The same is probably true for tau. If we could control both proteins in the same patient, we might get a synergistic benefit." Rather than seeking multiple drugs to accomplish this task, Dr. Weaver's team is looking for single molecules that will bind to both proteins and possibly other Alzheime
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SOURCE American Health Assistance Foundation
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