Alzheimer's gene neutralised in human brain cells for the first time

11 April 2018 09:03

Scientists have announced their latest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer's disease

Scientists have announced their latest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer's disease

Scientists have announced their latest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer's disease, after neutralising a high-risk gene in a human brain cell for the first time.

A California-based team successfully identified the responsible protein (associated with the apoE4 gene) and then succeeded in stopping it from damaging human neuron cells.

New potential

The study could mean new potential for halting the disease, though scientists are keen to take the research one step at a time, as, so far, their compound has only been tried on cells in a laboratory.

People with one copy of the apoE4 gene are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, while having two copies increases the risk 12-fold.

According to previous studies, roughly one in four people have the gene, which creates a misshapen protein that breaks down into disease-causing fragments in the cells.

This results in the development of problems commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease, which affects about 7.1% of Britons over the age of 65.

Next steps

The researchers are now working with the pharmaceutical industry to improve the compounds they've developed in order to test them on human beings.

Yadong Huang, who led the study, which is published in Nature Medicine, said: "Drug development for Alzheimer's disease has been largely a disappointment over the last 10 years.

"Many drugs work beautifully in a mouse model, but so far they've all failed in clinical trials.

"One concern within the field has been how poorly these mouse models really mimic human disease."

Huang and his colleagues went straight for human brain cells rather than the traditional mouse trial because they realised the presence of the apoE4 gene does not change the production of amyloid beta in a mouse brain.

Last month senior British scientists predicted that within the next few decades Alzheimer's sufferers will be able to live with the disease without the devastating symptoms.

If you're travelling with a family member suffering from Alzheimer's, don't forget to sort the specific insurance package to cover them.

Share this on Facebook Tweet this Share this on LinkedIn Email this