Focusing on the role of an enzyme known as presenilin, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas say they have identified a second function that may play a big role in the development of Alzheimer's. Presenilins are already well known for cleaving amyloid precursor proteins to create amyloid ß-peptides that form plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's victims. Mutant presenilins present in 40 percent of familial cases of Alzheimer's also lose the ability to balance calcium inside cells, researchers say. Calcium is a signaling molecule that plays an important role in memory. Their work may help spur new research into therapies that control the effect of presenilins. Specifically, drugs that restore normal calcium levels could possibly be used to combat Alzheimer's.
"Clearly it makes sense that presenilin's role in cleaving APP would affect Alzheimer's disease," said Ilya Bezprozvanny of UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "But our findings suggest a totally different angle, raising the possibility that presenilin's effect on the disease may be two-fold."
- read the report from The Hindu