Keio researchers make Alzheimer’s breakthrough

09/09/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) — A Keio University research team has successfully produced for the first time in the world iPS cells, embryo-like stem cells that arise throughout the bodies of Alzheimer’s disease patients, the University said.

Changing the iPS cells into nerves produced an inordinately large amount of proteins, a finding the research team expects to lead to developments in treatment of the affliction.

“We want to move a step closer to developing treatments for what has until now been an incurable disease by using iPS cells from patients,” Prof. Hideyuki Okano, head of the research team, said.

Keio’s team made the world’s first successful production of an iPS cell by adding a specific gene to skin cells from a patient in their 40s who comes from a family with a tradition of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s patients are known to store in their brains large amounts of amyloid-beta proteins. The build-up of these proteins is thought to cause Alzheimer’s. The Keio team discovered that changing iPS cells to nerves doubled normal amyloid-beta protein levels.

The research team found that by using nerves based on iPS cells it made progress on narrowing the field of candidates for development of new pharmaceuticals to treat the disease by discovering materials that could reduce beta-amyloids by one-third.

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