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A Protein Plays a Role in AD Memory Loss

Cleveland Clinic researchers have shown that a protein called Neuroligin-1 plays a critical role in the memory loss seen in Alzheimer's patients. The study was posted online in the January 19th 2014 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

A release from the clinic notes that amyloid beta proteins accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and induce inflammation. This inflammation leads to gene modifications that interrupt the functioning of synapses in the brain. This leads to memory loss.

The release quotes lead author Mohamed Naguib, M.D. as saying, "Alzheimer's is a challenging disease that researchers have been approaching from all angles. This discovery could provide us with a new approach for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease."

Previous studies from this group of researchers have also identified a novel compound called MDA7, which can potentially stop the neuroinflammatory process that leads to the modification of NLGN1. Treatment with the compound restored cognition, memory, and synaptic plasticity – a key neurological foundation of learning and memory – in an animal model. Significant preliminary work for the first-in-man study has been completed for MDA7 including in-vitro studies and preliminary clinical toxicology and pharmacokinetic work. The Cleveland Clinic plans to initiate Phase I human studies on the safety of this class of compounds in the near future.

The release notes that Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, fatal brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. About 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease. With the aging of the population, and without successful treatment, there will be 16 million Americans and 106 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's by 2050, according to the 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report from the Alzheimer's Association.

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