In a recent study related to the Alzheimer treatments and a number of other neurodegenerative diseases has attempted to uncover the role of an enzyme that naturally plays a role in the development of the disease but could be harnessed to work against the tangled clusters of amyloid tau proteins that accumulate and eventually lead to complications as seen in the condition. A relatively recent Alzheimer treatments related discoveries has explained how the protein accumulations in patient’s brain become the characteristic tangled clusters. The proteins fold in on themselves continuously, forming suffocating, disruptive clumps that destroy neuron connectivity and structure.
Alzheimer treatments so far have mostly focused on ways of directly reducing the protein buildup but the latest study in the area focused on ways of reversing and interrupting the protein folding process. The enzyme that the researchers focused on was cyclophilin 40 (CyP40). The enzyme once plays a role in the process of protein disruption, leading to the disease, but it could also be one of the prime enzymes to be reengineered to untangle the protein buildup.
Conventionally, the enzyme acts as a directional guide for proteins as they fold in on themselves and bend. When the process of bending and folding of the proteins is disrupted, as in the case of Alzheimer’s, the enzyme becomes a causative agent for the disease. But, the researchers have found, if it can be made to work in a reverse manner, it could reverse the protein folding, or could also prevent it from happening, thus preventing the disease itself.
Researchers from the University of South Florida have performed this experiment in a mouse model and have surmised that cyclophilin helped reduce the buildup of amyloid protein by unraveling them. Once the protein buildup was unraveled, the protein became soluble and could be removed more easily via the immune system of the brain. While more research needs to be undertaken in this area, this study has made clear that the enzyme works as a protein unraveler in an animal model.