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New protein discovery could lead to Alzheimer’s treatment

22nd September 2010

Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center have identified a new protein target which could play a role in the future development of treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Experiments performed among cell cultures and mice have led to findings that the activation of the protein neutral sphingomyelinase can cause a chain of reactions in brain cells that leads to neuronal death and memory loss.

Conversely, inhibition of the protein using a small molecule and a chemical inhibitor prevents the destruction of neurons, a key finding given the previously poor understanding of this process.

Dr Kalipada Pahan, neurological researcher and lead investigator at Rush, said development of clinical medication based on this principle could help to prevent memory loss among patients.

"Understanding how the disease process works is important in identifying effective approaches to protect the brain and stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease," Dr Pahan added.

According to figures from the Alzheimer's Society, there are currently 750,000 people with dementia in the UK, including more than 16,000 younger people.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-800076743-ADNFCR

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