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Scientists discover that three molecules may be developed into new Alzheimer's drugs

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) A team of scientists has discovered three molecules from a search of 58,000 compounds that appear to inhibit a key perpetrator of Alzheimer's disease.

Each of the three molecules protects the protein called "tau," which becomes hopelessly tangled in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's. The finding is promising news for the development of drugs for the disease.

Ken Kosik, co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, headed the effort to find these molecules. The results of the study are published in the July issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology, released on Friday, July 22.

As baby boomers grow older, the incidence of Alzheimer's, already increasing, will rise much more. "Our approaches to the disease are flagrantly inadequate," said Kosik.

"There are a couple of FDA-approved drugs that help a little, but don't modify the disease. They give a little bit of symptomatic relief, but don't change the inexorable progression of the disease."

He said that new insights made over the past decade help to understand the molecular and genetic basis of the disease and these can now be built upon for the development of treatments. "There is no doubt that we need new approaches," said Kosik. "The insights gained about the mechanisms of the molecular and genetic basis of the disease are beginning to add up and can be harnessed for treatments."

Alzheimer's involves a complicated, interwoven series of regulatory steps of genes and proteins "talking" to each other, he explained. "When the conversation goes awry the disease process begins. And it is not just one gene or one protein causing the damage."

The complexity of Alzheimer's means that several different medications will likely be needed to control it, said Kosik. The same is true for many other diseases from AIDS to cancer. "It is likely that we will need to strategically target diff
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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
22-Jul-2005


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