Researchers have identified an enzyme which could prove crucial in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, it was revealed today.
They have found that the enzyme can partially reverse the degenerative disease that leads to the development of abnormal formations in the brains of people with the condition.
The researchers from Scotland's Dundee University, led by Dr Calum Sutherland, say the enzyme can partially reverse the process that causes the abnormal structures of a protein called CRMP2.
This protein has a key role in the development of the tangles seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Sutherland said that while the enzyme which causes the formation of abnormal structures had been known for some time, the discovery of an enzyme which can reverse the process is a breakthrough.
He said: “If drugs could be developed that activate this, or associated enzymes, then they should reverse the abnormal structure of CRMP2 and hopefully slow down the development of tangles in the brain.
“We hope that drugs companies will take notice of this and look to develop drugs capable of activating this enzyme, although we will also be looking at naturally-occurring ways of activating it.
“This is a very important breakthrough, although it is important to stress that it is at an early stage.”
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, which funded the research, said: “Findings like these are crucial to our understanding of Alzheimer’s.
“A better understanding of the changes that occur in the brain at the onset of Alzheimer’s and how the disease progresses, could enable scientists to develop effective treatments for slowing or stopping the disease process.”
The findings are contained in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.