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Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to design antibodies aimed at combating disease. The surprisingly simple process was used to make antibodies that neutralize the harmful protein particles that lead to Alzheimer's disease.
The process is reported in the Dec. 5 Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The process, outlined in the paper, titled "Structure-based design of conformation- and sequence-specific antibodies against amyloid β," could be used as a tool to understand complex disease pathology and develop new antibody-based drugs in the future.
Antibodies are large proteins produced by the immune system to combat infection and disease. They are comprised of a large Y-shaped protein topped with small peptide loops. These loops bind to harmful invaders in the body, such as a viruses or bacteria. Once an antibody is bound to its target, the immune system sends cells to destroy the invader. Finding the right antibody can determine the difference between death and recovery.
"We are actually exploiting the same protein interactions that cause the disease in the brain to mediate binding of antibodies to toxic Alzheimer's protein particles," Tessier said.
Alzheimer's disease is due to a specific protein – the Alzheimer's protein – sticking together to form protein particles. These particles then damage the normal, healthy functions of the brain. The formation of similar toxic protein particles is central to diseases such as Parkinson's and mad cow disease.
Importantly, the new Alzheimer's antibodies developed by Tessier and his colleagues only latched on to the harmful clumped proteins and not the harmless monomers or single peptides that are not associated with disease.
Tessier and his colleagues see the potential for their technique being used to target and better understand similar types of protein particles in disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
"By binding to specific portions of the toxic protein, we could test hypotheses about how to prevent or reverse cellular toxicity linked to Alzheimer's disease," Tessier said.
Please remember for any loved ones in this situation, don't run from fear, or because of the tears afterwards (visits), or make excuses that "They" have gone already, that touch holding an hand, smell even, tone and type of voice is remembered well after they can cognise it coherently to us.
Ultimately they are scared, confused and have an terminal (if one of the longest) illness, and on many unseen levels it matters very very much.
Do it even so you wont have guilt when it too late, just for 5 minutes even just go and say Hello "Mum" "Dad" "Nan" "Grandad" "Sister" "Lover" "child" even1"
JUST DO IT! it matters much more than you know.