Drs. David Holtzman and Mac Diamond of the Washington University School of Medicine recently published research in Neuron that outlined the process of studying mice for potential tau protein tangle treatment avenues.
Tau is a toxic component of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, due to the protein’s tendency to amass in tangles. The aggregates, called neurofibrillary tangles, are believed to interfere with brain function and ultimately lead cognitive decline. The study followed mice models with a neurodegenerative disease called frontotemporal dementia, whose tau proteins have similar pathology to those present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The scientists used advanced screening methods to sort through anti-bodies and identify the few that could stop uptake of accumulated tau by cellular interaction, therefore ending intracellular tau tangles. The researchers then infused three anti-tau antibodies into mice brains. The results showed mice with the anti-tau antibodies had reduced tau accumulation and increased cognition, while mice infused with control antibodies experienced no change.
The first study to deal with infusing antibodies directly into the brain, Washington University’s research not only suggests a path of action, but solidifies the spread of tau aggregates between cells as a crucial step in tau-mediated diseases like Alzheimer’s. Dr. Diamond says that their research could lead to the creation of therapies designed to target the aggregation of tau proteins.
1) Kiran Yanamandra, Najla Kfoury, Hong Jiang, Thomas E. Mahan, Shengmei Ma, Susan E. Maloney, David F. Wozniak, Marc I. Diamond, David M. Holtzman. Anti-tau Antibodies Block Tau Aggregates. September 26, 2013. 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.046.
2) Washington University (September 26, 2013). Antibodies Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s-like Disease in Mice. Retrieved October 1, 2013 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926123326.htm
By Emma Henson
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