New molecular tools that 'cleanse' the brain of amyloid plaques, thought to be one of the factors in Alzheimer's disease, have been developed by scientists at the University of Michigan.
A hallmark of Alzheimer's disease-a neurodegenerative disease with no cure-is the aggregation of protein-like bits known as amyloid-beta peptides into clumps in the brain called plaques.
These plaques and their intermediate messes can cause cell death, leading to the disease's devastating symptoms of memory loss and other mental difficulties.
Previously, Mi Hee Lim and her team developed dual-purpose molecular tools that both grab metal ions and interact with amyloid-beta.
Building upon that first generation of compounds, the team has now reported a second generation of compounds that are more stable in biological environments.
The researchers tested one of those compounds in homogenized brain tissue samples from Alzheimer's disease patients.
"We found that our compound is capable of disassembling the misfolded amyloid clumps to form smaller amyloid pieces, which might be 'cleansed' from the brain more easily, demonstrating a therapeutic application of our compound," said Lim.
In addition, preliminary tests show that the bi-functional small molecules have a strong potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, the barricade of cells that separates brain tissue from circulating blood, protecting the brain from harmful substances in the bloodstream.
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.