A new study published in the journal Neuron reports the development of antibody treatments that can prevent the accumulation of a toxic protein, known as tau proteins, in the brain and may lead to new therapies for treating patients with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders..
In the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease and several other neurodegenerative conditions, tau proteins aggregate together and become tangled, a process that interferes with the brain's function and can cause many of the symptoms that patients experience.
Investigators led by Drs. David Holtzman and Marc Diamond of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis conducted studies in mice to reveal potential treatments to block this process. "We have identified anti-tau antibodies that can strongly reduce tau pathology, decrease tau accumulation, and improve cognitive function in a mouse model of a neurodegenerative disease called frontotemporal dementia," explains Dr. Holtzman. "Similar tau pathology is seen in Alzheimer's disease, implying that this could be an exciting treatment for a large number of patients."
This study, which is the first to report the effects of direct infusion of anti-tau antibodies into the brain, has important implications for the design of therapeutic antibodies for patients struggling with some of the most debilitating brain diseases. "In addition to the near-term implications for passive vaccination of patients, it suggests that therapies designed to target propagation of protein aggregation between cells could be very effective," says Dr. Diamond.