Using an innovative approach to prevent the toxic build-up of amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease

Lead Investigator: Dr Jody Mason
Institution: University of Bath
Grant type: PhD studentship 
Duration: 36 months
Amount: £84,936

Scientific Title: Intracellular Library Screening to Derive Novel Peptide-based Inhibitors of Toxicity in Alzheimer's disease

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'Research that can identify and establish the "causes" of dementia is vital. This research proposal is looking at an aspect of the diseased brain that may lead to treatment.'

'Continuing earlier research. Innovative and well thought out.'

'Novel technique (already proven in its basics) needs further development. Excellent collaborative framework, including longer term issues of drug construction and commercial application.'

What do we already know?

Alzheimer's disease is characterised by the build-up of toxic clumps of certain proteins. One of these proteins is called amyloid. Most research into potential treatments for Alzheimer's have focused on removing the amyloid clumps or by preventing them from forming in the first place.

Previous work by Dr Mason's team has identified certain forms of molecules called peptides that could block the toxic effects of amyloid. 

What does this project involve?

The student on this project will test whether their identified peptides can prevent the toxic effects of amyloid. They will add mixtures of peptides to specially-adapted bacterial cells and see which peptides in these mixtures can bind to the amyloid protein and prevent the toxic effects. They will then further investigate the successful peptides and understand more about how they work, what area of the amyloid protein they bind to and whether they can cross the protective barrier that separates the brain from the blood. 

The successful peptides will then be used as the basis to develop drugs that can mimic their effects. 

The project will involve collaboration with experts in cell-based and drug development techniques from the University of Queensland, Australia. 

How will this benefit people with dementia?

Removing the amyloid clumps from the brain has so far not been an effective strategy for treating Alzheimer's disease. Therefore new approaches are needed to understand how to prevent the amyloid protein from being toxic. The novel approach in this project will help researchers to understand more about how to stop the toxic amyloid protein and importantly to begin the process of designing new drugs that have the potential to tackle one of the underlying causes of the disease.