ALZHEIMER'S: Researchers are developing antibodies to the disease
These researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (New York) have developed a surprisingly simple method for designing antibodies that target harmful proteins in Alzheimer's disease. The process allowed to produce these antibodies that neutralize many toxic proteins that lead to disease. This method, reported in the online edition of the December 5 Reports of the National Academy of Sciences, could be used to develop new drugs.
Antibodies (against visual below) are large proteins produced by the immune system to fight infection and disease. They are composed of large Y-shaped proteins decorated with loops of small peptides. These loops bind to agents harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria. Once an antibody is bound to its target, the immune system sends cells to destroy the invader.
Scientists have long sought methods to develop antibodies to fight specific diseases. However, the incredible difficulty of designing antibodies that attach to a specific molecule has prevented scientists to achieve this ambitious goal. In the design of the antibody, the researchers said, the arrangement and sequence of the loops are of paramount importance. Now there are billions of possible arrangements.
By binding to specific portions of the toxic protein, these antibodies can prevent or reverse the cellular toxicity associated with illness: The new design process of antibody was used to create antibodies that target the protein 's disease Alzheimer's disease. The research, led by Pierre Tessier, professor of chemical and biological engineering, uses the same molecular interactions as those that allow proteins clump together and form toxic particles characteristic of the disease.
Other diseases are concerned by this discovery: Alzheimer's disease is caused by a specific protein - protein of Alzheimer's disease - These proteins stick together to form protein particles that damage the normal functions of the brain. The same process of formation of toxic protein particles is at the heart of diseases such as Parkinson's disease and mad cow disease. The antibodies of Alzheimer's disease developed only cling as harmful proteins clustered and not to harmless molecules not associated with the disease. The team sees is a potential target for toxic proteins also in other diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
After some progress needed to achieve deliver drugs into brain tissue very well protected, this antibody research should help develop new drugs against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Source: PNAS via Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute "Structure-based design of conformation-and sequence-specific antibodies Against amyloid β '(Visual Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Diagram of an antibody)