Investigating if peptide inhibitors can treat Alzheimer’s disease

Research project title: Peptide inhibitors of Tau aggregation as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease

Lead Investigator: Professor David Allsop

  • Institution: Lancaster University
  • Grant type: Project
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Amount: £101, 110.78

Why did we fund this research?

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

This research appears to have real potential in terms of finding new drugs, which might stop the formation of tau tangles involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

Project summary

To test whether a new type of drug can reduce the formation of tau tangles, which is one of the major changes that is seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. 

The background 

There are a number of changes that take place in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease including the build-up of the abnormal form of two proteins, tau and amyloid.

Amyloid clumps together to form plaques and tau sticks together forming tangles.

These proteins are believed to damage nerve cells in the brain, ultimately causing them to die. These researchers previously developed a new drug, made from a molecule called a peptide, that reduces the build up of amyloid plaques in mouse models of this disease. 

They are now following a similar strategy to reduce the formation of tau tangles. They have devised a new peptide that can stop the tau protein from sticking together to form tangle-like fibres in a test tube.

What does this project involve?

They will carry out further experiments to understand how the peptide is able to stop the tau protein from sticking together, and whether it can prevent it from accumulating inside nerve cells grown in laboratory cultures. 

They have completed preliminary experiments which show the new peptide can stop the degeneration of the eyes in flies (where the flies have human tau accumulating in their eyes) by adding the new peptide to their diet.

Using flies they will continue this important work to understand how and where tau accumulates in the nervous system.

The flies will have a limited lifespan and the researchers will explore if the treatment of the peptide will help them to survive for a longer period of time.

How will this project help people with dementia?

This is an important step towards the development of a new peptide as a potential drug to help stop the deterioration of Alzheimer’s disease. There hasn’t been a new treatment for dementia in over 15 years so it’s vital we explore every avenue to find a way to slow down or stop dementia in it’s tracks. 

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