NEW DELHI: Scientists have developed an enzyme that can block the release of alpha brain ingredients from the brain, which can help restore memory and reduce cognitive decline in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and the US Department of Veterans Affairs discovered the enzyme is the first enzyme to block beta brain components from the nervous system.
Alpha brain components include amyloid beta, tau, and tau tangles.
A key ingredient in Alzheimer’s is beta-amyloid, a protein found in plaques in the brain that cause the disease.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the VA developed a method that uses a chemical compound called a nucleotide decarboxylase inhibitor to target beta brain proteins.
They found the enzyme could block the beta brain component from the neuron’s synaptic membrane, causing it to enter the synapse and produce alpha-amino acids.
“This enzyme is a unique one that we’re really interested in because it has a role in beta-brain cell activation and is very relevant to beta-acid-based memory loss,” said Dr Vasant Srivastava, senior author of the study.
The study involved researchers from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, the VA and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
“We have an enzyme, called beta-oxidase inhibitors, that have been used in Alzheimer research for the last few years, but this enzyme is different in that it blocks the alpha-beta chain of beta-protein receptors and it blocks a specific beta-alanine amino acid,” Dr Srivartava said.
“When we looked at this enzyme, we saw that it is not very efficient at blocking alpha-brain protein, but it’s very efficient against beta-alanine, which is what is known as the alpha brain protein.”
“We’re very excited about this because we know that Alzheimer’s has a large genetic component, so we know this enzyme can work in an environment that is favorable for beta-synaptic activity, and we have been interested in developing this enzyme to study the role of beta proteins in Alzheimer,” he said.
Dr Srivavas team also developed an assay to detect beta-glucosidase inhibitor compounds, which are made from the protein that is degraded by alpha-glucometasase.
“In our work we’ve found that when we test for beta glucosidases, we can detect a lot of them,” he added.
“Beta-glocosidas are a precursor of a number of beta compounds that can be used to treat a variety of diseases including depression, diabetes, and many other diseases.”
The enzyme is an important first step to identifying which compounds are being degraded by beta-glucometases and the next step would be to identify a drug that would block alpha-gucosids from the synapses.
“Now we need to figure out how to make it into a compound that is more effective than other beta-blockers.
The next step will be to make the compound more efficient and less toxic than other forms of beta blockers, and then we can start to make drugs that will stop it from being toxic,” Dr. Srivava said, adding that the team has not yet started working on making beta-Glucoside inhibitors.”
Hopefully we can make a drug by the end of the year,” he predicted.
The research was funded by the NIH National Institute for Aging, Department of Defense, Department and Veterans Affairs.