Discovery of new link between inflammation and Alzheimer's disease
opens way for new treatments
12 January 2009
Researchers at the Roskamp Institute in the US have uncovered a new
link between inflammation and Alzheimer's disease and have identified a
potential target for developing novel therapeutics for intervention in
this disease. The study, led by Roskamp Institute's Pancham Bakshi, PhD,
is detailed in the American Chemical Society's Chemical Biology
It has long been known that Alzheimer's disease is accompanied by
inflammation, which both exacerbates and is caused by the underlying
disease. In addition, it has long been suggested that abnormal deposits
of a small protein, known as amyloid, which accumulate in the brain of
those afflicted by Alzheimer's disease, also trigger an inflammatory
response. This inflammatory response is thought to be detrimental to
nerve cells, eventually causing their destruction.
Recent research at the Roskamp Institute has revealed that
inflammation can lead to the production of more amyloid, and researchers
have found that a specific receptor on the nerve cell surface, known as
CXCR2, is an interface between inflammation and new amyloid production.
As specific inflammatory molecules contact CXCR2, a signal is generated
which results in increased amyloid production. The presence of the
abnormally occurring amyloid; therefore, contributes to its own
reproduction through the inflammatory response it triggers.
"I found that by genetically knocking out CXCR2, we can reduce the
amount of amyloid in various laboratory models and, by using drugs that
specifically block the CXCR2 receptor, we are able to show that a
decrease in production of amyloid can be achieved," said Dr. Bakshi.
"This study, which for the first time shows the early role of
inflammation in AD, opens a new door for therapeutic intervention,
potentially leading to the use of CXCR2 blocking agents as a way to
treat both the inflammation and the amyloid production in Alzheimer's
"Finding new classes of medications for Alzheimer's disease is a
world-wide priority," said Michael Mullan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., director of
the Roskamp Institute. "Dr. Bakshi's work highlights a new class of
drugs that should have the benefit of both stopping inflammation and,
importantly, stopping the accumulation of the pathologic amyloid. In
addition to the drug Dr. Bakshi has already tested, she is making her
own drugs to attack this potentially important target."
The Roskamp Institute is a not-for-profit research Institute located
in Florida, that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and
finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and
addictions with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease. The Roskamp
Institute's Memory Centers also offer comprehensive cognitive and
medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease
and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic
evaluation is complete.
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