A brain protein that could put the brakes on Alzheimer’s

“Scientists have known for a long time that inflammation is a driver of Alzheimer’s disease, but inflammation is complex and involves many factors,” said School of Biological Sciences Dean Frank M. LaFerla, Ph.D., whose laboratory conducted the research. “That’s why we decided to look at TOM-1.”

The protein helps to regulate a key component of the inflammatory response. “We were interested in TOM-1 because its levels are low in the Alzheimer’s brain and in the brains of Alzheimer’s rodent models,” said Alessandra C. Martini, Ph.D., the paper’s first author and a postdoctoral researcher who worked with Dean LaFerla. “However, its specific role in the disease has largely been unexplored.”

The scientists discovered that reducing the amount of TOM-1 in Alzheimer’s rodent models increased pathology, which included increased inflammation, and exacerbated cognitive problems associated with the disease. Restoring TOM-1 levels reversed those effects.

“You can think of TOM-1 as being like the brakes of a car and the brakes aren’t working for people with Alzheimer’s,” Dean LaFerla said. “This research shows that fixing the brakes at the molecular level could provide an entirely new therapeutic avenue. With millions of people affected by Alzheimers and the numbers growing, we must research a diverse portfolio of approaches so we can one day vanquish this terrible disease.”

Top Articles

Sharp increase in falls in women during midlife

Falls are not just a problem of advanced age, according to researchers, who have identified a sharp increase in falls after the age of 40, particularly in women.

Read More

Parasitic worms cause cancer — and could help cure it

Billions worldwide are infected with tropical worms. Unsurprisingly, most of these people live in poor countries, kept poor by the effects of worm-related malnourishment. What may surprise many is that worms also cause the majority of cases of some cancers in these countries.

Read More

Phytochemicals: beyond vitamins

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive chemicals in plant foods that protect plants from microbial invasions and infections.

Read More

Latest News

More evidence linking common bladder medication to a vision-threatening eye condition

A drug widely prescribed for a bladder condition for decades, now appears to be toxic to the retina, the light sensing tissue at the back of the eye that allows us to see.

Read

Targeting immune cells may be potential therapy for Alzheimer’s

A study has found that microglia drive neurodegeneration in diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, that are linked to tau protein. Targeting microglia may help treat such diseases.

Read

Deciphering the early stages of Parkinson’s disease is a matter of time

Researchers haveidentified for the first time the initial steps of alpha-synuclein protein aggregates related to early onsets of hereditary Parkinson cases. The results may help the understanding of the early stages of the disease and how it develops over time.

Read

“Our bodies are our gardens - our wills are our gardeners.”

William Shakespeare