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UCF research links proteins, stem cells and potential Alzheimer's treatment

A team of scientists led by professor Kiminobu Sugaya at the University of Central Florida may have found a new way to treat Alzheimers disease.

The team, which also included researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the National Institutes of Health, combined a technique for transplanting stem cells into rats and a newly discovered compound, phenserine. It reduces the amount of a plaque that is a hallmark of Alzheimers disease. The combination triggered the regeneration of neurons that are destroyed by Alzheimers and are necessary for healthy brain functions.

The research findings were published in the July 24 edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

There are 5 million Americans living with Alzheimers, one of the most common forms of dementia, according to the National Alzheimers Association. Thats why finding treatments has become so important to many scientists.

Its very exciting, Sugaya said. If our success with mice can translate into the human brain, it could give hope to patients and their families.

Sugaya, who is the founder of the International Brain Conference at UCF, has been spent his entire career studying the brain. Six years ago, he reported that brain stem cells transplanted into aged rats seemed to become functional neurons and improved age-associated memory loss, with no side effects.

When Sugaya transplanted stem cells into the brains of Alzheimers-model mice, he found that the stem cells did not form any neurons.

Sugaya found that excess amounts of the amyloid-precursor protein (APP), which produces a component of the plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimers, prevent stem cells from becoming neurons.

The research team treated Alzheimers-model mice producing human APP with phenserine, which is known to reduce the amount of APP in the brain. The APP level in the brain of treated mice was reduced by up to 50 percent, which would p
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Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
zkotala@mail.ucf.edu
407-823-6120
University of Central Florida
6-Aug-2007


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