March 23, 2007
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Scientists Discover Possible Source
of Alzheimer’s Disease and Pathway to Treatment
STRATFORD — Researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine have announced the results of innovative research that has pinpointed a major source of the amyloid beta peptides that deposit in the brains of individuals affected by Alzheimer’ s disease and are considered to be a hallmark of the disease. This discovery could open new therapeutic targets for future treatment of this devastating malady that currently afflicts more than five million Americans.
“Amyloid beta peptides are abundant in the blood, but are unable to cross the blood brain barrier in healthy individuals,” said Dr. Robert Nagele, a researcher at the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “Our research shows that these peptides readily penetrate defects in the blood brain barrier that result from degenerative conditions common to the vascular systems of older individuals. We also found that once these peptides leak into the brain tissue from the blood, they tend to selectively bind to neurons found in the areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s.”
Dr. Nagele was the corresponding author on this study which was published in the most recent edition of Brain Research (a PDF file of the published article can be viewed at: http://authors.elsevier.com/offprints/BRES36558/ae4dbd1a279ff6a4b4b0c74c6544214f. The study included the examination of tissue from 34 postmortem human brains. The results show that the blood can serve as a chronic source of the amyloid peptides that gradually accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and suggest pathways for therapies that can target these peptides and prevent defects in the blood brain barrier that allow the peptides access to the brain.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.