Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found a new test that measures levels of certain types of brain-damaging proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients.
The tests measure the protein beta-amyloid.
The findings are significant, they say, because it’s the first study to show that people can change their brains.
The researchers say the new test also shows that the beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA) protein, which has been shown to play a role in dementia, has a beneficial effect on people’s brain function.
The research is published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
“These are very promising findings because they show that beta-Aminobutyria protein plays a key role in the progression of Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Michael L. Lefferts, lead author of the study and professor of neurology at Brigham.
“There are other factors that contribute to the disease, but beta-AMOB may be the key factor.”
The new test measures levels for beta-Amyloid, which is the type of protein that causes the beta amyloid buildup in Alzheimer, dementia and other brain diseases.
Beta-Amaobutyra protein is produced in the brain when beta amyelin, a type of fatty protein, is degraded by beta-secretase, which breaks down the beta amino acid.
In the study, people with higher levels of beta- amyloids were found to have better brain function, better memory and reduced risk of dementia.
It was hoped that the results would be the first step toward developing a drug that could block the buildup of beta amamyloids, which cause the disease.
Researchers have used a drug known as BACU, which blocks the beta A-Amine enzyme in the body, for decades to treat people with Alzheimer’s.
BACUs can be given to people who are having problems with their brains or who are taking other medications to try to stop the accumulation of betaamylones.
The study, however, found that those who took beta- Amyloid-blocking drugs also had better outcomes with respect to brain function and the development of Alzheimer-related dementia.
A more recent study showed that a combination of BACu and BACO inhibitors also had similar effects on brain function in people who were taking both drugs.
The new study also shows how BACA inhibitors work.
The BACUA, which stands for beta amaculoyl-Acroleinutamide, is a drug designed to prevent the beta Amyloids from being formed in the brains of patients with Alzheimer.
It’s the type that helps prevent the formation of amylyloid plaque in the plaques found in the Alzheimer’s brain.
“The BACAA and BACE inhibitors are used in a clinical setting for treating Alzheimer’s and other dementia, but this study shows that they can also be used to treat cognitive impairment and the cognitive decline that may be associated with dementia,” said Leffitts.
The next step, said Leafferts and his colleagues, is to determine if BACAs are effective in people with mild cognitive impairment.
BACEs are a newer type of drug that targets beta amacyloids, and studies show they can be effective in reducing beta amamyls.
In that study, BACE inhibitor patients showed better brain functioning than BACAB inhibitors.
However, the new study shows BACE’s effect could be even more significant.
It also showed that people who took BACE had significantly better brain functions and improved memory, as well as reduced risk for Alzheimer disease.
“These findings provide important insights into the mechanisms of action of BACE and BCAU inhibitors in the treatment of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias,” said study co-author Dr. Eric L. Middelberg, associate professor of psychiatry at Brigham’s School of Medicine.
“As with any drug, BACAb and BacU inhibitors should be administered cautiously in people at high risk of adverse events.
However and more importantly, we believe that these findings demonstrate that these drugs can be useful in people in whom dementia is the cause of cognitive decline and cognitive impairment.”
In addition to Laffert, the other co-authors of the paper are Elizabeth L. Lefever, professor of pathology and immunology, and Mark J. Houghton, associate research professor of medicine.
The work was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institutes of Health.
The Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Woman’s Hospital was a founding member of the Alzheimer Disease Society.
The authors of this study are listed as co-first authors on the article.