Scientists say they have found a groundbreaking way to target the toxic particles that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Academics at the University of Cambridge and at Lund University in Sweden have devised a strategy to go after particles that destroy healthy brain cells, leading to hope that new drugs could be developed to treat dementia.
Professor Michele Vendruscolo, one of the scientists who led the research, hailed it as a “world first”.
The research was carried out by an international team of scientists that also included Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, at the Centre for Misfolding Diseases (CMD) which was co-founded by Sir Christopher.
The research paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Prof Vendruscolo said: “This is the first time that a systematic method to go after the pathogens – the cause of Alzheimer’s disease – has been proposed.
“Until very recently scientists couldn’t agree on what the cause was so we didn’t have a target.
“The pathogens have now been identified as small clumps of proteins known as oligomers and we have been able to develop a strategy to aim drugs at these toxic particles.”
Sir Christopher said: “This interdisciplinary study shows that it is possible not just to find compounds that target the toxic oligomers that give rise to neurodegenerative disorders but also to increase their potency in a rational manner.
“It now makes it possible to design molecules that have specific effects on the various stages of disorders such as Alzheimer’s, and hopefully to convert them into drugs that can be used in a clinical environment.”