According to researchers at the Saint Louis University, the protein, which is a part of the immunoglobulin M (IgM) class, is an antibody that grabs onto the amyloid beta protein in the brain and prevents it from changing into a toxic substance, which is believed to cause Alzheimer's disease.
"Our research in an animal model showed that antibodies can be developed rationally for treating Alzheimer's disease," William A. Banks, M.D. professor of geriatrics and pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University said.
"It's a major thing that people have been trying to do -- get antibodies into the brain in the right amount to treat illnesses. This antibody does that," he added.
Banks further said that the findings were astonishing, because IgM is five times bigger than the antibody immunoglobulin G (IgG), which is known as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease.
"This compound had better entry to the brain than IgG, even though they are smaller," he said.
He said that in aged mice that have a genetic mutation that causes deficits similar to those found in patients with Alzheimer's disease, a single intravenous dose of IgM reversed the cognitive impairment.
The findings were published in the August issue of Experimental Neurology.