New model could lead to improved treatment for early stage Alzheimer's

February 28, 2013

Researchers at the University of Florida and The Johns Hopkins University have developed a line of genetically altered mice that model the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. This model may help scientists identify new therapies to provide relief to patients who are beginning to experience symptoms.

The researchers report their findings in the current issue of The .

"The development of this model could help scientists identify new ways to enhance brain function in patients in the early stages of the disease," said David Borchelt, UF professor of neuroscience in the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute and director of the SantaFe HealthCare Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. "Such therapies could preserve longer and delay the appearance of more severe symptoms that leave patients unable to care for themselves."

In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, people struggle with and fail to learn new games, rules or technologies because their decreases. The continues with memory loss and the decline of other brain functions.

The researchers worked with mice that had specially designed gene fragments derived from bacteria and from humans that allowed the investigators to control the production of a small peptide. The peptide, called amyloid beta peptide, is a short chain of . Accumulations of this particular peptide in the brain as lesions called plaques occur early in the progression of Alzheimer's disease and seem to trigger the early memory problems.

The team regulated the expression of the peptide using antibiotics—when the animals stopped taking the antibiotic, the peptide-producing gene turned on and caused the mice to develop the plaques found in Alzheimer's patients. After the mice had developed the Alzheimer pathology, the researchers turned the gene back off and observed that the mice showed persistent that resemble the early stages of the disease.

"This model may be useful to researchers to test drugs that could help with symptoms of early stage Alzheimer's disease," Borchelt said.

Explore further: A new gene thought to be the cause in early-onset forms of Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Sleep problems may be early sign of Alzheimer's

September 5, 2012

Sleep disruptions may be among the earliest indicators of Alzheimer's disease, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report Sept. 5 in Science Translational Medicine.

Recommended for you

Alzheimer's stemmed but not stopped, say experts

September 19, 2016

Soaring rates of population growth and ageing have long been seen as portending a global explosion of Alzheimer's, the debilitating disease that robs older people of their memory and independence.

Memory loss not enough to diagnose Alzheimer's

September 13, 2016

Relying on clinical symptoms of memory loss to diagnose Alzheimer's disease may miss other forms of dementia caused by Alzheimer's that don't initially affect memory, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.