PET Scan of Alzheimer's brain
PET Scan of Alzheimer's brain(file)

There is new hope for Alzheimer’s patients. Scientists at Tel Aviv University have developed a new form of treatment which fixes the impaired gene that causes the illness. Mice that were treated recovered.

The treatment takes a new approach; targeting the APOE gene. The gene has two forms: a healthy form called APOE3 and a disease-related pathological form called APOE4. The researchers at TAU have developed an approach that will convert the bad form into the good form.

The research team is led by Prof. Daniel M. Michaelson, Director of the Eichenbaum Laboratory of Alzheimer's Disease Research and incumbent of the Myriam Lebach Chair in Molecular Neurodegeneration at TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"APOE4 is a very important and understudied target," Prof. Michaelson said. "It is expressed in more than 60 percent of Alzheimer's patients. Anti-APOE4 treatments are thus expected to have a major impact on the patient population.”

The main difference between the good form of the gene and the bad form is the way it interacts with lipids. The good gene carries many more lipids.

Researchers genetically manipulated mice which have the bad gene and saw that these mice had impaired memory and mental function. Researchers then found a way to fix the impairment of the bad gene, allowing it to carry more lipids and improving its function.

Mice that were previously impaired were able to function after undergoing treatment.

"Is there really a magic bullet? One treatment that covers all aspects of Alzheimer's? Not likely," said Prof. Michaelson. "Therefore there is a need to define specific subpopulations and to develop treatments targeted at genetic risk factors of the disease, like APOE4, which affects more than half of the Alzheimer's population."