Researchers isolate protein that protects against Alzhemier’s

January 7th, 2009 - 6:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 7 (IANS) Researchers have isolated a protein that protects against Alzhemier’s disease.The research was conducted by doctoral student Sonia Do Carmo and supervised by Éric Rassart of the Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM), in collaboration with researchers at the Armand-Frappier Institute and the University of Valladolid in Spain.

Do Carmo and her collaborators have successfully demonstrated the protective and reparative role of apolipoprotein D, or ApoD, in neurodegenerative diseases.

Their discovery opens up new ways of preventing and slowing the progression of this type of illness.

These studies were inspired by work done 10 years ago by Rassart’s team, who then discovered increased levels of ApoD in the brains of people with several types of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

The team hypothesised that this protein might play a protective and restorative role but were unable to demonstrate this at the time, said a UQAM release.

To establish the protective and reparative role of ApoD, the researchers used two types of genetically modified mice: one type with increased levels of ApoD in the brain and a second type with no ApoD.

The mice were then exposed to neurodegenerative agents. A group of the modified mice and a control group (unmodified) were exposed to paraquat, a widely used herbicide that has been shown to increase the risk of Parkinson’s.

Then the same type of experiment was performed by injecting two groups with a virus that causes encephalitis. In both cases, the mice modified for increased levels of ApoD had the best outcomes, with a better ability to combat the diseases and a higher survival rate than the unmodified mice.

The knockout mice with no ApoD displayed the poorest outcomes. These experiments serve to illustrate the protective and reparative role of this protein.

The discovery has aroused considerable interest among the molecular biology community.

These findings have been published in Aging Cell and Journal of Neuroscience.

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