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2016 Grants - Kuruppu
A Venom Derived Peptide to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
Sanjaya Kuruppu, Ph.D.
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant (AARG)
Can a molecule found in snake venom help reduce the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease?
In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid protein fragments can accumulate to form “plaques” in the brain — a hallmark feature of the disease. Specific proteins in healthy brain cells can recognize and remove potentially harmful beta-amyloid before it forms plaques. Improving the function of these proteins could be a novel way to reduce beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain and potentially slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sanjaya Kuruppu, Ph.D. and colleagues have identified a small protein, or peptide, in snake venom that stimulates two processes responsible for removing potentially harmful beta-amyloid from brain cells. In their initial studies, the snake venom peptide slowed beta-amyloid build-up in nerve cells grown in laboratory dishes, and in the brains of a small test group of Alzheimer’s-like mice.
For their current studies, Dr. Kuruppu’s team will test and validate the effects of the snake venom peptide using a larger number of Alzheimer’s-like mice. The researchers will make chemical modifications to the peptide and test several different forms to determine which types may be able to reduce beta-amyloid levels and improve cognitive function in the Alzheimer’s-like mice.
This study could provide new information about how beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. If successful, results of this work could provide the foundation for the development of snake venom peptides as a potential therapy to slow or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.