Buck Institute scientists have found a link between a protein that often leads to Alzheimer’s and an anti-aging protein found in red wine, a discovery that may hold the key to identifying preventative treatment for the disease.
In new research published this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers trace an interverse link between ApoE4, a cholesterol-carrying protein and a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and SirT1, a human protein targeted by resveratrol, present in red wine.
“This research offers a new type of screen for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment,” said Rammohan V. Rao, one of the authors of the study. “One of our goals is to identify a safe, non-toxic treatment that could be given to anyone who carries the ApoE4 gene to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million Americans and there is currently no cure or treatment to halt the progression of symptoms that include loss of memory and language.
About 25 percent of all people are born with ApoE4, yet two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients have the protein. The new research found that abnormalities associated with ApoE4 and Alzheimer's, such as the creation of phospho-tau and amyloid-beta, could be prevented by increasing SirT1, such as by drinking more red wine. Other ways to increase the human protein is by exercising regularly and lowering caloric intake.
But since someone would have to drink massive amounts of red wine in order to get the benefit of the protein, Buck researchers have identified drug candidates that could have same effect without destroying the liver.
Preventive treatments are particularly needed for the 2.5 percent of the population that carry two genes for ApoE4, increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s tenfold.