A therapeutic target to treat Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered by a research team at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), which is part of Main Line Health.
An estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, and by 2025 that number is expected to reach 7.1 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, which is the fifth leading cause of death for those age 65 and older. The total national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to be $277 billion (not including unpaid caregiving) and is expected to top $1 trillion by 2050.
The LIMR research team hypothesized that blocking the action of the bridging integrator 1 (Bin1) protein might lower the levels of another protein called tau, which is associated with Bin1. In Alzheimer’s disease, abnormal chemical changes cause tau proteins to stick together and form threads that eventually join to form tangles inside nerve cells. A proliferation of those tangles, which is a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s disease, blocks nerve cells’ transport systems that, in turn, disrupts their ability to communicate with other neurons. The result is that patients experience problems with memory, thinking and behavior, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily living.
LIMR researchers previously found that blocking the actions of the Bin1 protein decreased the expression of several inflammatory agents in the colon and thus could reduce incidence of ulcerative colitis in experimental mice. The researchers then wondered if the Bin1 antibody might also lower the expression of the tau protein.
“In cell culture studies we found that inhibiting the action of the Bin1 protein decreased the levels of phosphorylated tau, and in mouse studies, those treated with the Bin1 antibody survived longer than mice that were left untreated,” said Sunil Thomas, PhD, research assistant professor at LIMR and the lead author of the study. “Our data confirm that Bin1 monoclonal antibody could be a viable drug candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study’s results were published in the manuscript “Bin1 antibody lowers the expression of phosphorylated Tau in Alzheimer’s disease” in Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. The study was supported by a grant from the Women’s Board of Lankenau Medical Center.