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 (M.in-law) 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…
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 http://www.pranabio.com/
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.