A potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease was recently announced by three Israeli medical research teams.
A multi-disciplinary team from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology and Bar-Ilan University have created a medicine that goes directly to the brain. This medication slows the accumulation of a harmful protein that is a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
Prof. Ester Segal and doctoral student Michal Rosenberg of the Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology, developed a nano-sized silicon chip. THis chip can be loaded with a protein called “neural growth factor. This protein slows the damage done to the brain by amyloid beta protein, which blocks and kills nerve cells.
A Potential Cure: How It Works
Amyloid plaques build up in the brain, and that causes brain function deterioration, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The elderly are the most susceptible, and as this segment of the population is growing, this fatal disease is becoming more and more prevalent.
The Technion scientists made the microscopic chip both porous and safely dissolvable. Next, they installed a mechanism which allows it to release the protein over a month’s time. However, the main problem was how to deliver it directly into the brain.
The difficulty here is that the brain has an effective barrier to protect it from infection through the blood. In addition, this barrier also prevents it from receiving medication in regular drug form.
Innovative Solution Found
Prof. Orit Shefi and doctoral student Neta Zilony-Hanin, from Bar Ilan University’s Faculty of Engineering found the solution. In a “think out of the box” they reconfigured a tool used to insert DNA into plant cells, into a nose spray.
The “nose spray” injects the chip into the brain through the nose because it has a clear path, no blood-brain barrier.
Results were very positive. The time release protein reduced the amyloid plaques in mice.
This study was recently published in the medical journal Small. The researchers anticipate that clinical trials will begin in the near future.