St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists led a study opening up a new window into understanding and potentially interrupting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease using an approach that is producing insight in cancer and other diseases.
With the results of the study reported recently in the journal Neuron, the study centered on the tracking of changes in expression of most proteins within the frontal cortex—the brain region decimated by the neurodegenerative disease. The researchers tracked protein networks involved and how the brain changes as the disease worsens.
The study included nearly 150 adults in different stages of the neurodegenerative disease. Investigators also included control samples for the study. It was reported that this study represented the most comprehensive look to date at protein expression in brain tissue, reported Mirage News. The tissue samples originated from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The control samples included both adults without the disease and those with a different neurodegenerative disorder.
The study team profiled over 14,500 proteins using cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology as well as advanced analytic tools and a pipeline for analyzing and prioritizing results.
The Study Findings
The team reported that as the neurodegenerative disease worsens, in this case altered expression of 173 proteins working in 17 pathways. The researchers validated this association in two independent groups of adults with Alzheimer’s disease as well as with a mouse model. Prior only 20% of these proteins (out of the 173 observed) were previously connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
Corresponding Study Author Comments
Junmin Peng, PhD, with St. Jude’s Department of Structural Biology and Developmental Neurobiology as well as the Director of the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics reported that the disease is the most common type of dementia however “these results show we only understand the tip of the iceberg in terms of disease mechanisms, which slows development of novel treatments.”
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health; contracts with the Arizona Department of Health Services and Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, and ALSAC, the St. Jude fundraising and awareness organization.
Junmin Peng, PhD, with St. Jude’s Department of Structural Biology and Developmental Neurobiology as well as the Director of the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics
Xusheng Wang, PhD, University of North Dakota (formerly with St. Jude)