More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It's what most people think of when they hear "dementia." In most neurodegenerative diseases, misfolded proteins aggregate to form an insoluble clump called amyloid. Many amyloid-forming proteins, including tau in Alzheimer's disease and alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease, contain the amino acid proline, whose unique structure induces a bend in the amino acid chain. Those bends contribute to stacking of adjacent regions of the protein, thus promoting amyloid formation. A naturally occurring human enzyme -called cyclophilin 40 or CyP40- can unravel protein aggregates that contribute to both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, according to a study publishing June 27 in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Jeremy Baker, Laura Blair, and Chad Dickey of the University of South Florida in Tampa, and colleagues. The finding may point toward a new therapeutic strategy for these diseases. ‘Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.’ During normal protein folding, CyP40 latches on to prolines, orienting them into their characteristic chain-bending conformation, but like most enzymes, it can also operate in reverse, helping to unbend the chain. The researchers found that CyP40 could reduce the amount of aggregated tau, converting it into a more soluble form. In a mouse model of an Alzheimer's-like disease, experimental expression of CyP40 preserved brain neurons and rescued cognitive deficits. The same enzyme also disaggregated alpha-synuclein, an aggregate associated with Parkinson's disease. This is the first time that CyP40 has been shown to disaggregate an amyloid responsible for a neurodegenerative disease. Exactly how CyP40 reduces aggregation is not yet clear, and the authors provide two possibilities. The enzyme may bind to aggregated protein and, by reversing the proline bend, help unstack and separate the amino acid chain. Support for this model comes from the observation that the enzyme was less effective at reducing aggregates when its action was inhibited. Alternatively, the enzyme may bind to the protein before it forms aggregates, sequestering it and thus preventing it from clumping. Understanding more about the exact mechanism of the enzyme may help point toward a therapeutic strategy centered on proline's role in amyloid formation. "The finding that Cyp40 can untangle clumps of tau and alpha-synuclein suggests that it, or one of the more than 40 other human proteins with similar activity, may have a role to play in treating neurodegenerative disease," Blair said. Source: Eurekalert << Microscope can Scan Tumors During Surgery BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals Announced the Introduction ... >> Recommended Reading ‘Game Show App’ May Help Prevent Dementia, Improves Memory The app is a memory game and helps improve memory especially in those with Amnestic mild cognitive impairment - those who may get dementia. READ MORE New Technology Helps Dementia Patients Manage Their Responsive Behaviours Researchers say that responsive behaviours in people with dementia can now be managed with a new technology called the Ambient Activity Technologies. READ MORE Lifespan of Dementia Patients Linked With Well-Being Of Caregivers About 40 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from depression. Dementia patients lived longer when relatives who were in good mental health took good care of them. READ MORE Preventing Cognitive Decline, Dementia By Examining Evidence On Interventions Three evidences supporting interventions that might slow cognitive decline and dementia might need further research to justify a public health campaign. READ MORE Food Preservatives - How Safe Are They? Food preservatives are basically antimicrobials or anti-oxidants that help preserve food by destroying the microbes and stopping decomposition of food products. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Fongitar (Zinc Pyrithionone) Sinopril (2mg) (Lacidipine) Color Blindness Calculator More News on: Food Preservatives - How Safe Are They?