Novel antibodies for combating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease

December 3, 2012
Antibodies developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are unusually effective at preventing the formation of toxic protein particles linked to Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. Credit: Rensselaer/Tessier

Antibodies developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are unusually effective at preventing the formation of toxic protein particles linked to Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The onset of these devastating diseases is associated with the inappropriate clumping of proteins into particles that are harmful to cells in the brain (Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease) and (). , which are commonly used by the immune system to target foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, are promising weapons for preventing the formation of particles. A limitation of conventional antibodies, however, is that high concentrations are required to completely inhibit the formation of toxic protein particles in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other disorders.

To address this limitation, a team of researchers led by Rensselaer Professor Peter Tessier has developed a new process for creating antibodies that potently inhibit formation of toxic protein particles. Conventional antibodies typically bind to one or two per antibody. Antibodies created using Tessier's method, however, bind to 10 proteins per antibody. The increased potency enables the novel antibodies to prevent the formation of toxic protein particles at unusually low concentrations. This is an important step toward creating new therapeutic molecules for preventing diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"It is extremely difficult to get antibodies into the brain. Less than 5 percent of an injection of antibodies into a patient's will enter the brain. Therefore, we need to make antibodies as potent as possible so the small fraction that does enter the brain will completely prevent formation of toxic protein particles linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease," said Tessier, assistant professor in the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer. "Our strategy for designing antibody inhibitors exploits the same molecular interactions that cause toxic particle formation, and the resulting antibodies are more potent inhibitors than antibodies generated by the immune system."

Explore further: New research works towards early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease

More information: Results of the new study, titled "Rational design of potent domain antibody inhibitors of amyloid fibril assembly," were published online last week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study may be viewed at: www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/14/1208797109.abstract

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Caliban
not rated yet Dec 03, 2012
This is still only treating the symptoms of these diseases, as opposed to the disease mechanism itself, and could have some unforeseen consequences that could contraindicate this mode of treatment, since it is very similar to several other antibody-based therapies that have been trialed in the past and failed for safety reasons.

It seems like all the research into Alzheimer's, et al is driven by the desire to develop a treatment, as opposed to a cure, and the underlying conditions that give rise to the disease are still largely unknown.

but this lack doesn't stop billions of dollars being spent to develop a "bandaid" treatment...oh, no --far from it, as there is an almost inconceivably large amount of money to be made by the marketing of any such treatment-- even if it is only marginally effective and has a lousy safety profile.

The excuse for this putting the cart before the horse research strategy is that any help is better than none. Even if it bankrupts before it kills.

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