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Researchers Find Drugs Being Tested for Alzheimer’s Disease Work in Unexpected and Beneficial Ways

Posted Jun 16 2008 7:04pm

Researchers at Mayo Clinic, with their national and international collaborators, have discovered how a class of agents now in testing to treat Alzheimer’s disease work, and say they may open up an avenue of drug discovery for this disease and others.

In the June 12 issue of Nature, they report that agents known as gamma-secretase modulators (GSM) work to reduce production of long pieces of the amyloid beta protein (Abeta) that readily stick together and form clumps, and increase production of shorter Abeta that can inhibit the longer forms from sticking together.

This is critical because only when Abeta aggregates and accumulates is it harmful and can trigger Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers say.

“So, as these compounds lower the amount of the bad, longer sticky Abeta peptides in the brain, they increase the quantity of shorter Abeta peptides that may protect against development of Alzheimer’s disease,” says senior author Todd Golde, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

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