New therapies for people with Alzheimer’s disease could be the result of an important study at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. The study shows a brain protein that plays a key role in cognitive function and removal of toxins is inhibited in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia and cognitive decline in older people. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells causing memory, thinking and behavior problems. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
Nicholas Seeds, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and doctoral student Shay Fabbro found the activity of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is reduced by greater than 50 percent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. tPA is a protein that promotes the formation of new contacts in the brain required for learning and memory. It also helps clear the brain of toxic plaques that lead to the loss of brain tissue associated with Alzheimer’s.
“What's important is that these findings identify an important new area for potential treatment of Alzheimer disease,” said Seeds.
Seeds and Fabbro found reduced tPA activity may be due to a major increase of neuroserpin, an inhibitor of tPA activity in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Seeds adds, “Our study shows that the molecule neuroserpin is increased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer Disease. Developing inhibitors of the molecule may be useful to reduce accumulation of toxic amyloid protein that leads to loss of brain function."
These findings are published in the April 15 issue of the “Journal of Neurochemistry.”
The University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine faculty work to advance science and improve care as the physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the CU Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is part of the University of Colorado Denver, one of three campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the CU Denver newsroom online.