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2005 Grant - Kirshenbaum
Peptide Mimetic Imaging Agents for Detection of Alzheimer's Disease
Kent Kirshenbaum, Ph.D.
New York University
New York, New York
2005 New Investigator Research Grant
Because Alzheimer's disease can resemble other forms of dementia, it can be extremely difficult to diagnose. One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's is the clumping together, or aggregation, of a small protein fragment, or peptide, called beta-amyloid. If these peptide clumps could be detected early it would provide not only a firm diagnosis but also a window of opportunity for early intervention, care and long-term planning.
Recently, scientists modified beta-amyloid peptides so that they could be detected in mice with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Kent Kirshenbaum, Ph.D., and colleagues now plan to modify these "mimetic" peptides for use in humans.
The researchers will focus on several fundamental features that will make their "peptoids" both efficient and safe. They will ensure that though the peptoids will bind very tightly to the beta-amyloid clumps, they will not exacerbate aggregation of the natural peptide. They will also modify the peptoids so that they can easily penetrate into the brain and can be detected by MRI scans. Last, but not least, they will design the peptoids to interfere with beta-amyloid aggregation, and therefore prevent the peptide clumps from getting larger. Therefore, these peptoids may serve not only in diagnosis of Alzheimer's but also as potential therapeutics.