If youâ€™ve been paying attention to Alzheimerâ€™s disease research, youâ€™ve probably read a lot about beta-amyloid. Itâ€™s a toxic protein fragment that dominates the plaques that appear in the brains of people with Alzheimerâ€™s. Many experimental therapies for Alzheimerâ€™s target beta-amyloid, but so far, they’ve not proven effective.
That could be for several reasons. Maybe those treatments started too late to make a difference. But an increasing number of Alzheimerâ€™s researchers are starting to reconsider the field’s emphasis on amyloid. Nature News has a feature this week explaining how the spotlight is shifting to the protein ApoE, encoded by the gene whose variation is responsible for the top genetic risk factor for Alzheimerâ€™s.
In line with this trend, Emoryâ€™s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center recently received a five-year, $7.2 million grant to go beyond the usual suspects like beta-amyloid. Emory will lead several universities in a project to comprehensively examine proteins altered in Alzheimerâ€™s. Youâ€™ve heard of the Cancer Genome Atlas? Think of this as the Alzheimerâ€™s Proteome Atlas, potentially addressing the same kind of questions about which changes are the drivers and which are the passengers.
Emoryâ€™s back-to-basics proteomics approach has already yielded some scientific fruit, uncovering changes in proteins involved in RNA splicing and processing. Also, the Nature feature also has some background on a clinical trial called TOMMORROW, which Emoryâ€™s ADRC is participating in.