Sat, Jul 22, 2017 | updated 12:35 AM IST

Animal study paves way for treatment of Alzheimer's with gene therapy

Updated: Oct 11, 2016 12:29 IST      
Animal study paves way for treatment of Alzheimer's with gene therapy

Washington D.C. [USA], Oct. 11 (ANI): In a recent research, scientists have prevented the development of Alzheimer's disease in mice by using a virus to deliver a specific gene into the brain, hence, opening avenues for potential new treatments of the disease.

Previous studies by the same team suggest, this gene called PGC1 - alpha, may prevent the formation of a protein called Amyloid-beta peptide in cells.

Amyloid-beta peptide is the main component of Amyloid plaques, the sticky clumps of protein found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

These plaques are thought to trigger the death of brain cells.

Alzheimer's disease affects around 520,000 people in the UK. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and change in mood or personality.

Worldwide 47.5 million people are affected by dementia - of which Alzheimer's is the most common form.

There is no cure, although current drugs can help treat the symptoms of the disease.

Magdalena Sastre, senior author of the research explained: "Although these findings are very early they suggest this gene therapy may have potential therapeutic use for patients. There are many hurdles to overcome, and at the moment the only way to deliver the gene is via an injection directly into the brain. However this proof of concept study shows this approach warrants further investigation."

Co-author of the study Nicholas Mazarakis said the modified virus used in the experiments was called Lentivirus vector and is commonly used in gene therapy.

"Scientists harness the way lentivirus infects cells to produce a modified version of the virus, that delivers genes into specific cells. It is being used in experiments to treat a range of conditions from arthritis to cancer.

We have previously successfully used the lentivirus vector in clinical trials to deliver genes into the brains

of Parkinson's disease patients," she said.

In the new study, the team injected the virus, containing the gene PGC-1 - alpha, into two areas of the brain in mice susceptible to Alzheimer's disease.

The areas targeted were the hippocampus and the cortex, as these are the first regions to develop Amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease.

Damage to the hippocampus affects short-term memory and leads to a person forgetting recent events, such as a conversation or what they ate for breakfast.

The hippocampus is also responsible for orientation and damage results in a person becoming lost on familiar journeys, such as driving home from the shops.

The cortex, meanwhile, is responsible for long-term memory, reasoning, thinking and mood.

Damage can trigger symptoms such as depression, struggling to work out how much money to give at a checkout, how to get dressed or how to cook a familiar recipe.

The animals were treated at the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, when they still had not developed Amyloid plaques.

After four months, the team found that mice who received the gene had very few Amyloid plaques, compared with the untreated mice, which had multiple plaques in their brain.

Furthermore, the treated mice performed as well in memory tasks as healthy mice.

The tasks included challenges such as replacing a familiar object in the mouse's cage with a new one. If the mice had a healthy memory, they would explore the new object for longer.

The team also discovered there was no loss of brain cells in the hippocampus of the mice who received the gene treatment.

In addition to this, the treated mice had a reduction in the number of glial cells, which in Alzheimer's disease can release toxic inflammatory substances that cause further cell damage.

The protein PGC-1 - alpha, which is coded by the gene, is involved in metabolic processes in the body, including regulation of sugar and fat metabolism.

Sastre added that other studies from different institutions suggest physical exercise and the compound Resveratrol, found in red wine, may increase levels of PGC-1 - alpha protein.

However, Resveratrol has only been found to have benefits as a pill, rather than in wine, as the alcohol counteracts any benefit.

The team suggests injections of the gene would be most beneficial in the early stages of the disease, when the first symptoms appear.

They now hope to explore translating their findings into human treatments, he said.

"We are still years from using this in the clinic. However, in a disease that urgently needs new options for patients, this work provides hope for future therapies," he added. (ANI)

Are some people genetically programmed to be depressed?

Updated: Jul 21, 2017 09:48 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 21 (ANI): It's a sombre thought, but it seems that some of us are born more likely to be depressed.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 21 (ANI): A team of researchers has come up with a new imaging technique that can diagnose cardiac sarcoidosis much more accurately than traditional tests.

Full Story >>

Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], July 21 (ANI): Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine which seeks to treat and integrate body, mind and spirit using a comprehensive holistic approach especially by emphasizing diet, herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, breathing, and physical therapy.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 20 (ANI): When it comes to faring well after chemotherapy, a cancer patient's social interaction matters, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

New radiotherapy find offers hope to cancer patients

Updated: Jul 20, 2017 10:06 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 20 (ANI): An exciting discovery in the cancer treatment is having dramatic results.

Full Story >>

New strategy could yield more effective flu shots

Updated: Jul 20, 2017 09:46 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 20 (ANI): A boosting skin vaccination with a biodegradable microneedle patch and protein constructed from sequences of influenza virus subtypes could improve the effectiveness of conventional influenza vaccines, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Revealed! Best time to sleep to wake up feeling refreshed

Updated: Jul 20, 2017 04:09 IST     

London [UK], July 20 (ANI): The secret of a good night's sleep has finally been unveiled!

Full Story >>

Anxiety drug may help you with fear of social rejection

Updated: Jul 19, 2017 14:22 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], July 19 (ANI): A team of researchers has found that low doses of anxiety disorder-reducing drug can help highly-anxious people overcome their fear of being over-looked and rejected socially.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], July 19 (ANI): Good news! A new technology may help to non-invasively predict children or newborn at risk of an asthma attack.

Full Story >>

Your poor sleep may increase risk of Alzheimer's: Study

Updated: Jul 19, 2017 10:08 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], July 19 (ANI): Beware! Breathing problems during sleep may be a signal of an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, warns a study.

Full Story >>

Indian population, carrier of hepatitis B: Study

Updated: Jul 18, 2017 20:01 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 18 (ANI): Viral hepatitis is inflammation and damage of the liver by viruses , most commonly hepatotrophic (predominantly with an affinity for attacking the liver - Hepatitis A , B , C , D , E ) or non hepatotrophic viruses (Generalized involvement of human body with liver as a target tissue seen with Dengue virus , Chikungunya etc.).

Full Story >>

This monsoon, let's be HepAware!

Updated: Jul 18, 2017 18:01 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 18 (ANI): Hepatitis A is mild to the moderate viral disorder of the liver which is affected by the consumption of contaminated food and water. Unfortunately, monsoons are the best time when air/water borne infections are at its peak.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], July 18 (ANI): If your grandparents are suffering from dementia, then you can help them by interacting with them about their interests for an hour a week and improve their quality life.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], July 17 (ANI): Commemorating its 21st Founder's Day and in an endeavor to promote healthy lifestyle, Pushpawati Singhania Hospital & Research Institute (PSRI) a multi-specialty hospital here organized free health check-up camps and school wellness programme.

Full Story >>

Here's how weekly social hour can help dementia patients

Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:49 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 17 (ANI): Person-centred activities combined with just one hour a week of social interaction can improve quality of life and reduce agitation for people with dementia living in care homes, while saving money, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Combo therapy better than drug alone against Alzheimer's

Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:34 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 17 (ANI): Combining a specific care management program with a commonly-prescribed drug for Alzheimer's disease is better at turning back the clock on the ageing brain than medication alone, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 17 (ANI): Nearly 30 percent of stroke patients are refusing to take life-saving statins because they are worried about the side effects, according to a recent study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 17 (ANI): The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 have left behind scars that are more than just skin-deep. According to a recent study, the survivors may be at an increased long-term risk of asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart attack.

Full Story >>

Geneva [Switzerland]/New York[United States], July 13 (ANI): Some three in ten people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation, according to a new report by WHO and UNICEF.

Full Story >>

Brain tumor next to the brain stem treated with Radio Surgery

Updated: Jul 13, 2017 15:33 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 13 (ANI): In an exemplary case of medical excellence in the treatment of brain tumors, doctors at Venkateshwar Hospital, New Delhi recently helped a 55-year-old woman combat a serious brain tumor, which was leading to progressively worsening neurological complications over a sustained period of time.

Full Story >>