Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Zfra could treat Alzheimer’s: team

Staff writer, with CNA

A National Cheng Kung University research team said it has proven the efficacy of a zinc finger-like protein in restoring memory deficits, suggesting it has the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The team was led by Institute of Molecular Medicine director Chang Nan-shan (張南山), Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy director Sze Chun-i (司君一) and department professor Kuo Yu-min (郭余民).

Alzheimer’s disease is mainly the result of cell death and tissue loss in the brain that is believed to be caused by plaque and tangles building up in nerve cells, the team said.

Researchers found that Zfra, a naturally occurring 31-amino-acid protein, can effectively reduce plaque aggregation and tangle formation.

Zinc fingers are small protein structures coordinated by at least one zinc ion that serve a wide variety of biological functions.

The effectiveness of Zfra was proven in an experiment, in which mice were injected with a small dose of synthetic Zfra peptides every week, the team said.

After one month, 50 percent of the plaques and tangles in the mice’s brains had disappeared, with the mice’s memory deficits almost fully restored, it added.

However, the team said that more time would be needed before the discovery could lead to a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment.

Developing a new Alzheimer’s drug based on the study’s results would be expensive and require a significant amount of time, the team said, urging international pharmaceutical companies to get involved so that preclinical and clinical trials of a Zfra-based drug could begin as soon as possible.

The results of the study were published online in March in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, an open-access journal of the US-based Alzheimer’s Association.

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