As of right now, there are no treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. However, that may soon change. A study led by UCLA researchers identified potential drug targets in patient brains. Through examining the Alzheimer’s disease proteome (all the protein molecules in your body), researchers may be closer to uncovering treatments. Read their full findings in Cell Reports.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which causes brain cell death. While researchers don’t know the exact cause, it is believed to be a mix of environmental factors, genetics, and lifestyle choices. Risk factors include age (65+), gender (female), past head trauma, and poor sleeping. An estimated 5 million U.S. citizens alone have Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Memory loss
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Language difficulties
- Poor reasoning or critical thinking skills
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease here.
So what exactly is a proteome? According to ScienceDirect, the proteome is:
a set of all expressed proteins in a cell, tissue, or organism.
In a sense, proteomics, the study of proteins, is similar to genomics, the study of the human genome. In both cases, researchers are using the whole of something (the whole set of proteins, the whole genome) to better understand the intricacies of the body.
For this study, researchers collected over 1,000 distinct brain tissue samples from tissue banks from three groups of people: healthy controls, patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Using these samples, researchers measured brain protein levels.
Next, researchers identified approximately 5,000 proteins. They placed these molecules into groups based on how often they were usually found together within samples. Although proteins may not interact at all, they generally rise or fall in a specific pattern.
Then, researchers examined brain tissue samples from patients who died before experiencing any symptoms of neurodegeneration. However, researchers noted signs of neurodegeneration in the tissue samples themselves. Through this, researchers analyzed what proteins appeared in these tissue samples, denoting early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. One such example are encoding proteins, as they link together the entire proteomic network.
The next step for researchers will be partnering with pharmaceutical and drug development companies, with a specific focus on these newly identified protein targets.
Read the source article here.