Designer drug may help treat Alzheimer

from the molecular-medicine dept.
Demonstrating the wisdom of attacking some medical problems at the molecular level, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago announced on 2 August 200 that they have designed and synthesized highly potent inhibitor compounds that could lead to an effective treatment for Alzheimerís disease. The researchers designed an inhibitor that blocks the action of a protein-cutting enzyme, or protease, thought to be responsible for Alzheimerís disease. This enzyme, called memapsin 2, severs a longer protein in the brain called amyloid precursor protein, or APP, to produce beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brain and forms plaques that lead to the development of Alzheimerís disease. The synthetic inhibitor compound blocks memapsin 2 and keeps it from cutting APP, which could halt accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain. The paper describes the inhibitor, designed and tested in the laboratory, which is comparable in size to HIV protease inhibitor drugs now being prescribed. "Designing a smaller, more potent inhibitor is an important step in the development of an effective treatment for Alzheimerís patients, " said one of the researchers.
The work was reported in the American Chemical Societyís Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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