A group of scientists from San Luis, Missouri, in the USA, discovered antibodies that eliminate Alzheimer’s plaque years before the characteristic symptoms of this disease begin to be visible, according to a study published on Monday, March 26th, in the journal Clinical Investigation.
The finding, tested in mice so far, could lead to a way to stop the brain damage caused by amyloid plaques, which accumulate in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients, while the disease is still in its early stages.
“Many people accumulate amyloid for many years, and the brain simply can not get rid of it,” said David Holtzman, the study’s author.
“By removing the plaques, if we start early enough, we can stop changes in the brain that result in forgetfulness, confusion and cognitive decline,” added Dr. Holtzman.
In this study, the researchers focused their efforts on determining if the Alzheimer’s plaques could be eliminated, a measure that should better protect the brain against Alzheimer’s.
To reach that conclusion, they focused their research on the antibodies that recognize and bind to the APOE gene.
HAE-4 antibodies eliminate Alzheimer’s plaque in mice
For six weeks, the rodents received weekly injections of placebo or antibodies against the APOE and, subsequently, the neurologists measured the number of plaques in their brains.
An antibody called HAE-4 decreased the level of Alzheimer’s plaques in the brains by half, according to the study’s findings.
In addition, HAE-4 had no effect on APOE levels in the blood, a relevant issue, since the APOE gene plays an important role in the transport of fats and cholesterol in the body, thus removing it from the bloodstream could create unwanted side effects.
In conclusion, the team found that antibodies that target APOE can succeed in removing plaques in people and are less likely to trigger a destructive immune response.
Researchers are planning more studies to determine if there are similar antibodies against Alzheimer’s plaque that are safe and effective enough to be used in humans.