Research highlight

Neuroscience: Receptor to (amyloid) beta Alzheimer’s disease?

Nature Communications

June 26, 2013

Deficiency of a specific receptor accelerates the accumulation of plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The finding, published online in Nature Communications, suggests that this class of receptors may represent a promising target for the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia in the Western world and much attention has been focussed on the deposition of amyloid beta plaques in the brain as a major factor in the progression of the disease. Joseph El Khoury and colleagues carry out a genetic screen to identify receptors that may be involved in the clearance of these plaques and highlight Scara1 - a receptor known to be involved in clearance of infectious pathogens from the body - as a candidate. They go on to show that pharmacologically increasing Scara1 enhances clearance of the potentially neurodegenerative plaque component in a mouse model of the disease.

Although these studies were carried out in mice, the authors hope that screening small molecule and drug libraries in a similar fashion to the genetic screen, will identify novel compounds that upregulate this specific class of receptors in the hope that these compounds can be used therapeutically for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms3030

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