New Information on Alzheimer’s Disease Being Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
A new study that will be presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the BPS (Biophysical Society) at the beginning of February 2013 reveals a novel approach by a team of scientists from Israel towards a drug that could be capable of lowering the risk of diabetes patients to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are trying to identify the molecular basis for the design of such drug.
A precedent study shows that patients suffering from type 2 diabetes are more predisposed to the development of Alzheimer’s disease than patients without diabetes. Their risk is almost doubled. According to researchers, these two diseases are related because they both form a type of peptide deposits that either aggregate or for clusters together. Peptides are short chains of amino acid monomers that are linked together by amide (peptide) bonds. These bonds are formed when the amino group of one amino acid reacts with the carboxyl group of another. Compared to proteins, peptides are smaller in size, containing, on average, 50 amino acids or less. The peptide formed in Alzheimer’s disease is called amyloid beta and is foun the plaques formed in the brain’s neurons. The second type of peptide, called amylin, is linked to type 2 diabetes and can be found in the pancreas and in the brain. A couple of years ago, scientists discovered that both peptide molecules are found in the in the pancreas of patients suffering from diabetes. Furthermore, the presence of these peptides has been linked in both diseases to their progression rate.
Assistant Professor Yifat Miller, from the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, with the help of his research team, managed to examine the structure of these molecules and they way they interact. His study reveals the fact that interactions between these two molecules are responsible for the self-assembly of peptides which will further lead to the aggregation of proteins. It is the first paper to have shown this connection.
“By identifying the specific ‘hot regions’ of these peptides that strongly interact with each other, our study may provide insight into the link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease”, said Yifat Miller, whilst adding that “We believe that preventing these interactions by developing a drug will decrease the risk that type 2 diabetes patients face of developing Alzheimer’s disease later life”. The research team from Israel collaborated with Aphrodite Kapurnitou from the Technische Universität München, from Germany. Professor Kapurnitou is responsible for the experimental studies of the peptide interactions.