Researchers develop new method to delay onset of Alzheimer’s

Researchers develop new method to delay onset of Alzheimer’s

Guwahati: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, have developed a “new method” which could help reduce short-term memory loss associated with the Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists studied the neurochemical principles of Alzheimer’s, and explored ways to prevent accumulation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain that are associated with short-term memory loss.

The team led by Dr Vibin Ramakrishnan, Professor, Department of Biosciences & Bioengineering, and Dr Harshal Nemade, Professor, Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, worked out interesting methods such as application of low-voltage electric field, and the use of ‘trojan peptides’ to arrest aggregation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain.

The study has been published in reputed journals such as ACS Chemical Neuroscience, RSC Advances of Royal Society of Chemistry, BBA and Neuropeptides.

While current treatments only alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, there is no disruptive therapeutic approach yet that can treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.

A defining hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of amyloid beta peptides in the brain. Dr. Ramakrishnan and Dr. Nemade worked on methods to reduce accumulation of these peptides to arrest the progression of Alzheimer’s.

In 2019, the IIT Guwahati scientists found that application of a low-voltage, safe electrical field can reduce the formation and accumulation of toxic neurodegenerative molecules that cause short-term memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.  They found that external electric/magnetic field modulates the structure of these peptide molecules, thereby, preventing aggregation.

“Upon exposure to electric field, we could retard the degeneration of nerve cells to an extent of 17–35%. Objectively, this would translate to about 10 years delay in the onset of the disease”, says Dr. Ramakrishnan.

Working further in this area, the scientists explored the possibility of using ‘Trojan peptides’ to arrest aggregation of these neurotoxic molecules. The idea of using ‘Trojan peptide’ comes from mythological “Trojan Horse” used as subterfuge by the Greeks in the battle of Troy.

The researchers have designed Trojan peptides by adopting a similar approach of ‘deceit’ to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide, arrest the formation of toxic fibrillar assemblies, and reduce poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.

“Our research has provided a different path that may extend the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease. However, it would take testing in animal models and clinical trials before bringing in such new therapeutic approaches into human treatment” adds Dr. Ramakrishnan.

India has the third highest number of Alzheimer’s patients in the world, after China and US, with more than four million people suffering from the memory loss associated with it.

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