Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
PZ HTL SA
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING

Maintaining Brain Sugar Levels May Be Key to Alzheimer’s Prevention

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 13 Mar 2012
Preventing or slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a fatal brain disorder expected to impact one in 85 people worldwide by 2050, may be as easy as making sure a brain protein’s sugar levels are maintained.

This is the conclusion of seven researchers, including Dr. David Vocadlo, a Simon Fraser University (SFU; Burnaby, BC, Canada) chemistry professor and Canada research chair in chemical glycobiology, make in the March 2012 issue of Nature Chemical Biology. The journal has published the researchers’ latest paper Increasing O-GlcNAc slows neurodegeneration and stabilizes tau against aggregation.

Dr. Vocadlo and his coworkers described how they have employed an inhibitor they have chemically created--Thiamet-G--to block O-GlcNAcase, a naturally occurring enzyme, from depleting the protein Tau of sugar molecules. “The general thinking in science,” said Dr. Vocadlo, “is that Tau stabilizes structures in the brain called microtubules. They are kind of like highways inside cells that allow cells to move things around.”

Previous research has demonstrated that the linkage of these sugar molecules to proteins, such as Tau, in cells is vital. In fact, according to Dr. Vocadlo, researchers have tried but failed to rear mice that do not have these sugar molecules attached to proteins.

Dr. Vocadlo, an accomplished chess player, is having great success checkmating problematic enzymes with inhibitors he and his students are creating in the SFU chemistry department’s laboratory of chemical glycobiology.

Earlier research to Dr. Vocadlo’s has revealed that clumps of Tau from an AD brain have nearly none of this sugar attached to them, and O-GlcNAcase is the enzyme that is robbing them. Such clumping is an early event in the development of AD and the amount of clumps correlate with the disease’s severity.

Scott Yuzwa and Xiaoyang Shan, grad students in Dr. Vocadlo’s lab, discovered that Thiamet-G blocks O-GlcNAcase from removing sugars off Tau in mice that drank water with a daily dose of the inhibitor. The researchers found that mice given the inhibitor had fewer clumps of Tau and maintained healthier brains.

“This work shows targeting the enzyme O-GlcNAcase with inhibitors is a new potential approach to treating Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Vocadlo. “This is vital since to date there are no treatments to slow its progression. A lot of effort is needed to tackle this disease and different approaches should be pursued to maximize the chance of successfully fighting it. In the short term, we need to develop better inhibitors of the enzyme and test them in mice. Once we have better inhibitors, they can be clinically tested.”

Related Links:
Simon Fraser University



Channels

Genomics/Proteomics

view channel
Image: The TheraCyte cell encapsulation device (Photo courtesy of TheraCyte, Inc.).

Encapsulated Human-Insulin-Producing Progenitor Cells Cure Diabetes in Mouse Model

A breakthrough system that allows subcutaneous implantation of encapsulated immature pancreatic cells (beta progenitor cells) was shown to produce enough insulin to correct the symptoms of diabetes in a mouse model.... Read more

Drug Discovery

view channel
Image: Chitosan is derived from the shells of shrimp and other sea crustaceans, including Alaskan pink shrimp, pictured here (Photo courtesy of NOAA - [US] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Chitosan Treatment Clears the Way for Antibiotics to Eliminate Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

Recurrent urinary tract infection was successfully resolved in a mouse model by treatment with the exfoliant chitosan followed by a round of antibiotics. Bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI), most... Read more

Therapeutics

view channel

Cytokine Identified That Causes Mucositis in Cancer Therapy Patients

The action of the cytokine interleukin 1-beta (IL-1beta) has been found to underlie the onset of mucositis, a common, severe side effect of chemotherapy and irradiation of cancer patients. Mucositis occurs as a result of cell death in reaction to chemo- or radiotherapy. The mucosal lining of the mouth becomes thin, may... Read more

Lab Technologies

view channel
Image: Diagram of the apparatus for testing drug solubility (Photo courtesy of the University of Huddersfield).

Novel Apparatus Mimics the Human Digestive System for Oral Drug Studies

A team of British drug developers has created an instrument that mimics the human digestive system, which will allow them to accurately determine how orally-administered medications are dissolved and then absorbed.... Read more

Business

view channel

Analytical Sciences Trade Fair Declared a Rousing Success

Organizers of this year's 24th "analytica" biosciences trade fair have reported significant increases in both the number of visitors and exhibitors compared to the 2012 event. The analytica trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis, and biotechnology has been held at the Munich (Germany) Trade Fair Center every... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.