Scientists hope that a recent discovery about the development of Alzheimer’s will lead to new drugs to treat the disease. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara and other institutions have found evidence that a certain cluster of peptides—short chains of amino acids linked together—may be a toxic agent producing Alzheimer’s disease.
Based on laboratory evidence, Michael T. Bowers, UCSB professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said in a written announcement that he believes that there is now “a face, a structure, on the molecular assembly that is responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.” The apparent beginning of Alzheimer’s development is the over-aggregation of the Amyloid Beta 42 (AB42) peptide, meaning that too many units will join together; eventually creating structures that can lead to degeneration-causing plaque.
Bowers and his research group used a new technology, called ion mobility-based mass spectroscopy, to investigate the structure and behavior of protein and peptide systems.
“Our group, along with our collaborators, are searching for drug candidates that can prevent AB42 from aggregating to form the toxic dodecamer,” said Bowers, referring to the 12-layered protein structures they think may be responsible for the devastating brain disease, which commonly afflicts the elderly. “While it is early in the search, we are hopeful good candidates can be found.” The newest results are being viewed as a sign that progress can at last be achieved in treating Alzheimer’s.