MSU scientists have found a way to stop Alzheimer’s at an early stage

© Fotolia / SSilver Neurons in the human brainMSU scientists have found a way to stop Alzheimer’s at an early stage© Fotolia / SSilver

The staff of the faculty of fundamental medicine of Moscow state University determined the structure of the peptide complex, which is formed in the brain in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the study will help in the development of compounds able to stop the progression of the disease. The work is supported by Russian scientific Foundation, the results published in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of people are formed by the accumulation of beta-amyloid peptide. Research group of Moscow state University under the guidance of doctor of chemical Sciences Vladimir Bolshakova studied the molecular mechanisms of aggregation of beta-amyloid in carriers of mutations in Taiwan, described the structure of the formed complexes and has established the role of zinc ions (Zn2+) in their formation.

Beta-amyloid is a small peptide, which performs important physiological functions, for example, protects the brain against potential pathogens. After performing their functions normally, the peptide is cut by the protease and recycled. However, in some cases, molecules of this peptide starting to communicate with each other, forming complex systems that are toxic to the neurons.

For several years, MSU scientists in cooperation with colleagues from the Institute of molecular biology RAS them. V. A. Engelhardt investigated the molecular mechanism of zinc-dependent aggregation of beta-amyloid peptide. As a model of the object they chose a peptide with the Taiwanese mutation. The carriers of such mutations are Alzheimer’s disease develops at a relatively young age. The authors found that the structure of the beta-amyloid complexes of the mutant peptides is more durable and stable than the complexes of the normal peptides. A key role in their education plays zinc ions (Zn2+).

On the basis of a confirmed in this paper, the molecular mechanism of the initiation of the pathogenic aggregation of beta-amyloid has already patented two compounds that can block the aggregation of beta-amyloid peptide. The study of the properties of these compounds in animal models has shown that they reduce the risk of diseases corresponding to Alzheimer’s disease.

The staff of the laboratory of magnetic tomography and spectroscopy, faculty of fundamental medicine of Moscow state University carried out the study in collaboration with the research group of the Institute of molecular biology RAS them. V. A. Engelhardt (MPI SB RAS) headed by academician Alexander Makarov.

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