Thanks to the development of a new antibody capable of detecting the presence of amyloid-beta oligomers, scientists have just made a new leap in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia to date and affects more than 7% of the world’s population. Among those affected, it is estimated that only one in four people are diagnosed with the disease, and symptoms often appear only after the disease has reached an advanced stage that is difficult to control. However, thanks to a new antibody that can detect certain proteins responsible for the formation of amyloid plaques, scientists will soon be able to diagnose the disease earlier and provide better treatment.
Amyloid-beta oligomers suspected perpetrators
In the presence of the tau protein, the so-called beta-amyloid peptide plays a predominant role in the formation of the plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. In its free form known as an amyloid-beta oligomer, it causes a decrease in the efficiency of the cholinergic networks involved in memory and learning, as well as in muscle activity and the vegetative functions of the peripheral nervous system. However, oligomers have long eluded discovery by researchers because they are difficult to detect in the early stages of the disease.
We still urgently need quantitative methods to identify oligomers that play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease but are too discreet for standard antibody detection strategies,” said Michele Vendruscolo, director of the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Thanks to our innovative strategy, we have discovered antibodies that are able to detect these toxic particles. »
Towards a better understanding of the disease
The method proposed by the Vendruscolo team is based on an antibody-based detection method that has been developed in the Misfolding Diseases Center over the last ten years. The antibody developed in the course of their research now has an affinity for oligomers three times higher than for other types of beta-amyloid, which makes the detection more refined and accurate.
But the benefits of this breakthrough do not stop there. The method proposed by the researchers will allow further investigation of the role of beta-amyloid peptide in Alzheimer’s disease by allowing more effective detection of the oligomers.
Although the amyloid hypothesis is the most widely used, it has not yet been fully validated, partly because the amyloid-beta oligomers are particularly difficult to detect, which means that opinions differ on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Vendruscolo. The discovery of an antibody directed precisely against the oligomers is therefore an important step in monitoring the disease, identifying its origin, and controlling its progression. »