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Laboratory Research Shows Promising Approach to Preventing Alzheimer’s

  • - Dementia News
  • Mar 03, 2012
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  • Viewed: 3089
Tags: | alzheimers patients | amyloid precursor protein | app | healthy diet |

As scientists struggle to find an effective way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may have found a new approach to interrupting the process that leads to the devastating disease.

Building on their knowledge of two enzymes that control an “uber” enzyme critical to the development of the disease, the scientists found that the two enzymes are present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. And by screening some 15,000 compounds, they discovered two that lower activity of the enzymes in test tubes.

The research, published in the Jan. 20 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, offers hope for a novel approach to preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). No other research team has focused on the two enzymes and the way they affect the uber enzyme.

More than five million people in the United State may have Alzheimer’s, a complicated disease that has been a challenge to understand. Many researchers have zeroed in on amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s, as one of the main culprits.

Amyloid originates from a protein called amyloid precursor protein, or APP. An enzyme called beta-site APP cleaving enzyme, or BACE1, cuts APP to produce amyloid and another small fragment called AICD. Both amyloid and AICD are toxic to nerve cells and have been linked to AD.

The current research, under the direction of Dr. Luigi Puglielli, associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), centers generally on BACE1. Elevated levels of this enzyme, which rise normally during aging, may lead to high levels of amyloid.

The 6 pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle
The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors.

While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence.

The six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:

- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- An active social life

The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be.

When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger… longer.

“The prediction is that if you prevent the up-regulation of BACE1 caused by aging, you could prevent the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease that is also associated with aging,” says Puglielli, of the Geriatric Research and Education Center at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.

Drugs to block BACE1 could, in theory, prevent the build-up of amyloid and help slow or stop the disease. A handful of companies are devoting resources to finding various ways to block BACE1; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has filed a patent for the compounds Puglielli has discovered to be effective.

Is there a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Last week, a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Paris suggested there might be, something that would give hope to millions who worry that one day they may be struggling with dementia.

The new study, by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated how many Alzheimer’s cases might be attributable to certain behaviors or conditions: physical inactivity, smoking, depression, low education, hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

The authors used a mathematical model to surmise that these behaviors and conditions, all of which can be modified, are responsible for about half of the roughly 5.3 million Alzheimer’s cases in the United States and 34 million cases worldwide.

And they calculated that if people addressed these risks - by exercising, quitting smoking, increasing their education or losing weight, for example - a significant number of Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented. Reducing the prevalence of these risk factors by 10 percent, the researchers estimated, could prevent 1.1 million cases worldwide; reducing these risk factors by 25 percent could prevent more than three million cases.


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  • Elderly >= 75 years: 100 mg/dose PO or 300 mg/day PO.
  • Elderly 65 - 74 years: 100 mg/dose PO or 400 mg/day PO.
  • Adolescents >= 16 years: 100 mg/dose PO or 400 mg/day PO.
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  • Children: Maximum dosage has not been determined.
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