Protein that regulates brain cell connections could be new target for treating Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer’s Society comment

Researchers in the US have discovered that a protein called Ephexin5 may have a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

They discovered that removing Ephexin-5 in mice prevents the loss of connections between brain cells and prevented memory problems in mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also discovered that Ephexin5 levels appear higher in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease.

The research was published online today (Monday 27 March 2017) in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The researchers say the findings could eventually advance development of drugs that target Ephexin5 to prevent or treat symptoms of the condition.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'One of the key hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is toxic clumps of a protein called amyloid, but it is currently unclear what effect amyloid has on brain cells. This research in mice discovers that toxic amyloid clumps can ‘switch on’ a protein called Ephexin5, which is normally switched off, and that this could contribute towards the loss of important connections between nerve cells. Further work is needed to understand the role of this protein in the onset of Alzheimer’s, and whether what’s been seen in mice is the same as the human condition.'