The dreaded illness could soon have a cure with the scientists’ recent breakthrough in genetics. They have successfully removed a gene that causes Alzheimer’s disease from a human brain.
So far, there have been other possible treatments, like an enzyme inhibitor or frontal lobe stimulation, but this method is different because it was carried on humans, not on lab mice.
Erasing Alzheimer’s Disease Gene From The Human Brain
The Gladstone Institutes is an independent biomedical research institution based in San Francisco. The scientists removed a gene called apoE4, that is the genetic risk factor linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
The lead author of the study, Yadong Huang has published the study in the Nature Medicine journal, showing that human brains that contain a copy of apoE4 have a double risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease during their life. Brains that contain two copies of the gene have an increase of 12 times the risk of developing the disease.
Researchers have created neurons from skin cells of patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s and have two copies of the apoE4 gene. Then, they took copies of healthy patients with two copies of the apoE3 gene. They discovered that the protein apoE4 couldn’t function normally in human neurons, thus leading to it breaking down into fragments and forming beta-amyloid protein. To many beta-amyloids will create plaques after clumping together, causing the symptoms of the disease by disrupting neurons.
This discovery was surprising because, in mice trials, the apoE4 gene didn’t end up increasing beta-amyloid levels.
A Cure For Alzheimer’s Disease
The researchers have created some compounds to transform the harmful apoE4 protein into apoE3 protein, which is harmless. With the apoE4 protein corrected into apoE3 protein, the signs of Alzheimer’s disease have been eliminated. Now it remains to improve the compounds for future human testing.
Yadong Huang stated that a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease was “largely a disappointment” so far because a lot of drugs worked on mice, but failed in clinical trials with human subjects. But this research was tested on humans, so it might be the first step in curing the Alzheimer’s disease.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.