Iron, Zinc and Alzheimer’s

It’s strange how things happen sometimes. I had a trackback link in my spam queue that was pushing one of the zillions of news harvesters. (There are sites that grab a bit of news then look for keywords and put a trackback link / comment in the comment queue for other articles in the hope of causing traffic for their adds. They don’t do the article, nor the comment, it’s all automated, just looking for ad revenue… I usually delete them). It pointed to a Yahoo article about Alzheimer’s. Having an elderly relative ( with dementia, I’m interested in how it works. So it had the key word Alzheimer’s in the title and I followed it back and unraveled the indirection links. The Yahoo article is here:

It is about a company that is publicly traded, so I’ll include a stock chart. Typical start-up scale biotech hoping for a world killer drug. You get “no joy” until suddenly it rockets UP if they get approval or down if denied. Welcome to Vegas…

5 Year Weekly Interval chart for PRAN - Prana Biotechnology

5 Year Weekly Interval chart for PRAN - Prana Biotechnology

I might buy a couple of hundred shares just as a toy and to keep posted on what they are doing. It looks interesting from a technical point of view.

The short form: An enzyme system that manages iron levels inside the neuron gets screwed up if the zinc levels are wrong, and the zinc levels are managed by a protein that is involved in the plaque formation, along with a bit of feedback as the zinc levels change the protein into plaque (or are exacerbated by the plaque). I’d seen the news on the identification of the genes involved, but not on the metal / enzyme systems. Having this level of understanding is “a big deal”. I wish them luck, for many reasons.

Quotes from the Yahoo article that is itself extracting the original scientific article:

The evidence published in Cell shows that the source of beta-amyloid, the beta- amyloid precursor protein (APP), plays a hitherto unknown critical role in exporting iron out of neurons. If APP fails to carry out this role, iron builds up in the neurons contributing to oxidative stress, neurofibrillary tangle formation and ultimately neuronal cell death. Importantly, Prana scientists have demonstrated that synaptic zinc can prevent APP from performing its normal iron transporting role. Synaptic zinc levels and distribution changes in the Alzheimer’s diseased brain, because zinc released into the synaptic space is drawn into the beta-amyloid that forms plaques in the synapse. This is problematic for the brain because neurons are deprived of the zinc required for neurotransmission and the zinc induces toxic beta-amyloid oligomer formation. Moreover, as now indicated by the Cell publication, the zinc caught up in the beta-amyloid can be exchanged or transported to the APP, impeding its ability to prevent iron buildup in neurons. Accordingly, the maintenance of correct zinc levels in the brain is vital for neuronal function and ultimately cognition.

The Prana company has a web site at

I’m sure it will take more than just a zinc tablet with dinner (or chelating zinc out if too much), but if they can make biochemical ‘plugs’ that prevent the zinc transport to where it does not belong, and that then let the iron levels become normal, things could improve a great deal. If they can find a way to plug up the plaque formation pathways, that would be stellar. I wish them well. This has a decent chance of working.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Human Interest. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Iron, Zinc and Alzheimer’s

  1. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Don’t know how good the company management is or the level of their science. But any help with age related degenerative problems will be in greater demand in the future.

    Trace metal management is a problem in many medical fields. Quality testing may be even more difficult.

    Pleased to be able to read the PDF on the Prana site. Those of us that are old farts need to keep up on the latest. ;-) pg

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    The price spike on the chart was from when the news first hit that these guys had drugs about to go into trials. Never buy such a spike, they fade far more than they run (as folks don’t want to wait 10 years for approval).

    On the other hand, it’s great news. Even if all it does is make a bunch of folks reconsider what the right levels of zinc and iron supplements ought to be in old folks.

    I expect we’ll see drugs approved inside 5 years, though. When you have a substantially untreatable disease that is universally destructive and / or lethal, approval tends to come fast.

  3. Many years ago it appeared an article in Reader’s Digest explaining that this disease was caused by aluminum, as we do not use this metal in our body. That article and several others were followed by a ferocious campaign against this finding, of course by the producers of aluminum (aluminum pots for cooking,deodorants, etc.). It happens that aluminum has a high negative potential and displaces all the rest of metals.
    Knowing this, the only possibility to displace that aluminum off the brain of poor users of aluminum cooking pots or aluminum deodorants would be the ingestion of those with a more negative potential as: Lithium (as carbonate), Sodium (as common salt!!), Magnesium (as chloride or better as citrate).
    Li+ + e- Li(s) -3,045
    Na+ + e- Na(s) -2,714
    Mg2+ + 2e- Mg(s) -2,363
    Al3+ + 3e- Al(s) -1,662
    And as the mother of a friend of mine was suffering from this illness, laying in bed and already almost unconscious, I prepared magnesium citrate, by making react a heavy elements free Magnesite ore with USP citric acid to a concentration of 16 g of Mg per liter, which my friend gave to her mother at a doses of 50 ml twice a day. One week later the lady woke up and her first words were: Son, please give me a cigarette!!!

Comments are closed.