Tag: Alzheimer’s disease
This week’s Nature publication by researchers of Probiodrug AG and the University of Virginia has received broad coverage in the international media. In Germany and Austria, it made major news in TV (ARD, MDR, ORF) and radio stations (dlf, MDR, dradio), while in the US Rudy Tanzi, neurogeneticist of Harvard Medical School and an advisor on the Alzheimer problem to US-President Barack Obama, was quoted in ScienceNews as saying: “This opens up a whole new view of the disease.”
Alzheimer researcher Thomas Bayer, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Goettingen added in MDR INFO that the publication was “a very important contribution”, demonstrating that very small amounts of pGlu Abeta were able to drag normal Abeta peptides along into the deadly cascade and that tau protein was essential for the toxic function.
Nature paper demonstrates that toxicity in AD is induced by pyroglutamate Abeta and is tau protein dependent
Pyroglutamate Ab (“pyroglu Ab”) a predominant, highly toxic fraction of Aβ found in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, triggers the formation of toxic oligomers exhibiting prion-like behavior and initiating neurotoxicity via a tau protein-dependent pathway, thereby explaining the crucial role of such modified Aβ in the onset and spread of neuronal toxicity in Alzheimer’s Disease.
HALLE/SAALE, Germany, May 2, 2012 – Probiodrug AG (Probiodrug), a biotech company developing products for the treatment of neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease (AD), today announced its scientists and academics collaborators published seminal findings on the role of pyroglu Aβ in AD pathology in the May 2, 2012 online edition of the journal Nature (DOI: 10.1038/nature11060). The new findings add to the growing body of evidence that pyroglu Aβ plays a crucial role in the initiation of AD. In addition, the research results further elucidate the mechanism by which pyroglu Aβ triggers neuronal toxicity.
The data published today suggest that pyroglu Aβ co-aggregates with “normal” Ab peptides to form low molecular weight oligomers (LMOs), which are structurally distinct and far more toxic to cultured neurons than oligomers derived from normal Aβ. Moreover, the presence of the neuronal protein tau is essential for toxicity mediated by LMOs that contain pyroglu Aβ. The results have been substantiated in transgenic mice designed to express increased levels of pyroglu Aβ. In these animals, the pyroglu Aβ-mediated neuronal loss and gliosis was prevented, if tau expression was shut down. The study is supplemented by results published in the Journal of Neurochemistry. Here the Probiodrug researchers reveal, that the aggregation propensity is caused by the hydrophobic nature of pyroglu Aβ.
The scientists also were able to demonstrate that the cytotoxicity is propagated by a prion-like templating mechanism of Ab misfolding initiated by pyroglu Ab: even after strong dilution to a solution containing only 0.000625% pyroglu Ab, the mix after 24h developed enough toxicity to kill 50% of neurons treated with it.
– Lead investor Banexi Ventures Partners joins strong investment consortium –
Aleva Neurotherapeutics, a company developing next-generation implants for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in major neurological indications such as Parkinson´s disease or depression, today announced the closing of a Series B financing round totaling CHF 4.0 million.
Banexi Ventures Partners acted as a lead investor in the financing, with selected private investors also participating in the round. Existing institutional investors are BioMedInvest AG, BB BIOTECH VENTURES III, L.P. and Initiative Capital Romandie.
The proceeds will be used to advance Aleva’s leading-edge neurostimulation products through clinical development up to CE marking. Aleva´s products are based on its proprietary, next-generation microDBS™ technology for Deep Brain Stimulation therapy (DBS).
DBS is targeting a rapidly growing patient population with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia, which currently consists of over six million people worldwide. Other potential application areas include Alzheimer´s disease and dementia.
Aleva’s microDBS™ technology has been designed as a next-generation treatment for target-specific brain stimulation, which is supposed to significantly reduce side effects, potential complications and costs associated with DBS therapy.
Clemens Gleich in Die Welt reports on the development of super batteries able to power a smart phone or notebook for days without re-charging. While some researchers try to improve conventional lithium-ion batteries by modifying the carbon-based anode with silicon, others design lithium-oxygen or fluorine-oxygen batteries. Main challenges are safety, prevention of swelling and maintaining a high capacity.
Britta Verlinden in Die Zeit reports on the discovery that dimethyl fumarate, a standard drug used for the treatment of psoriasis since 1994, may also be used as a pill to treat multiple sclerosis. Preliminary results of a Phase III trial demonstrate its ability to significantly reduce the number of attacks. The drug candidate codenamed BG-12 is being developed by Biogen Idec. The paper raises the concern that BG-12 may be sold as MS medication at €15,000 a year – while based on the price of the same compound for psoriasis, costs would amount to €4,400 per year, which already “is clearly more costly than what might be expected based on the cheap basic material”.
The Economist this week features the discovery of Oxford University scientists that a small marine organism produces a water-resistant, flexible material which has the adhesive characteristics of barnacle glue and the structural properties of spider-silk fibres. Already, spider silk is being used for novel materials. A salt water tolerant silk might open up medical uses for silk where it would come in contact with salty body liquids. The paper also looks into the prospects of stem cell therapies. While Geron’s pulling out of the stem cell business is viewed as bad news for the field, the paper highlights good news coming from a Lancet paper describing how stem cells can be used to repair hearts. The injection of autologous heart stem cells into damaged heart muscles of patients which underwent coronary bypass surgery led to “remarkable” results, improving pumping volume and other parameters.
Linda Geddes in The New Scientist raises hopes that partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy some day may be used to screen the general population for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease or autoimmune diseases. PWS microscopy can detect changes in the chromatin density of cells, and researchers already have shown that cancer patients even in apparently healthy cells have unusual chromatin densities not seen in cancer-free people.
Finally, Alex Knapp in Forbes proclaims the end is in sight: we may be approaching the day where coffee is both rare and expensive. For one, the demand is growing all over the world at an enormous rate, and second, at the same time yields are diminishing because of pests, climate changes and political instabilities. So enjoy your coffee while it lasts!