Cutting back sharply on the activity of an enzyme known as CDK5 in the brains of mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease sharply reduced the brain damage that defines the illness, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
CDK5 has been found to be overactive in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, so the researchers introduced a particular peptide—one of the building blocks of proteins—into the mice’s brains that is known to interfere with CDK5.
Dramatically weakening CDK5’s action not only reversed neurodegeneration but also significantly reduced damage to brain cells’ DNA and “rescued behavior deficits,” the scientists said in a statement.
The peptide also turned on about 20 genes in the brain.
Crucially, the peptide had no effect on the enzymes CDK1 and CDK5-P35, both of which are essential to brain function.
The researchers have more detailed work to complete in the lab before offering human trials, for which there is no time frame yet.
TRENDPOST: Alzheimer’s is beginning to yield to various treatments, as we documented in “New Breakthroughs May Cure Alzheimer’s” (13 Mar 2019).
If symptoms can be neutralized by introducing a single peptide, that likely would be the treatment to be most widely adopted: it would be simpler, and therefore cheaper, than many alternatives.