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AD Drug to Prevent Brain Blood Clots

Experiments done in Sidney Strickland’s Laboratory of Neurobiology and Genetics at Rockefeller University in New York have identified a compound that might halt the progression of Alzheimer’s by interfering with the role amyloid-β, a small protein that forms plaques in Alzheimer’s brains, plays in the formation of blood clots. This work is highlighted in the July 2014 issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

A release from the university explains that without a steady supply of blood, neurons can’t work. That’s why one of the culprits behind Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be the persistent blood clots that often form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, contributing to the condition’s hallmark memory loss, confusion, and cognitive decline.

For more than a decade, potential Alzheimer’s drugs have targeted amyloid-β, but in clinical trials, they have either failed to slow the progression of the disease or caused serious side effects. However, by targeting the protein’s ability to bind to a clotting agent in blood, the work in the Strickland lab offers a promising new strategy, according to the highlight, which will be published in print on July 1st 2014.

This latest study builds on previous work in Strickland’s lab showing amyloid-β can interact with fibrinogen, the clotting agent, to form difficult-to-break-down clots that alter blood flow, cause inflammation and choke neurons.

The release quotes Strickland as saying, “Our experiments in test tubes and in mouse models of Alzheimer’s showed the compound, known as RU-505, helped restore normal clotting and cerebral blood flow. But the big pay-off came with behavioral tests in which the Alzheimer’s mice treated with RU-505 exhibited better memories than their untreated counterparts. These results suggest we have found a new strategy with which to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”

RU-505 emerged from a pack of 93,716 candidates selected from libraries of compounds, the researchers write in the June issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Hyung Jin Ahn, a research associate in the lab, examined these candidates with a specific goal in mind: Find one that interferes with the interaction between fibrinogen and amyloid-β. In a series of tests that began with a massive, automated screening effort at Rockefeller’s High Throughput Resource Center, Ahn and colleagues winnowed the 93,000 contenders to five. Then, test tube experiments whittled the list down to one contender: RU-505, a small, synthetic compound. Because RU-505 binds to amyloid-β and only prevents abnormal blood clot formation, it does not interfere with normal clotting. It is also capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier.

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