Local research could lead to Alzheimer’s treatment

SAN DIEGO – Scientists at Scripps Research Institute say they’re one step closer to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 10.03.11 PMNeuroscientists at SRI have found a link between Alzheimer’s and an enzyme called AMPK that may lead to treatments to slow down or stop the disease.

“The over activation of AMPK causes synapsis,” said lead researcher Dr. Franck Polleux, professor at Scripps Research Institute’s Dorris Neuroscience Center.

Synapsis is the separation of neurons, which end up contributing to a person’s memory loss, Polleux explained.  When researchers blocked the enzyme on disease models, brain damage slowed down.

“We are currently in talks to develop drugs and therapy to target this enzyme at the very early stages of lack of connection among neurons,” said Polleux.

Four million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent study also shows it is now the nation’s most expensive disease, costing more than cancer and heart diseases.

The new findings by researchers at Scripps Dorris Neuroscience Center also raise questions about the use of a popular type 2-diabetes medication, called Metformin. The research found Metformin helps fuel the AMPK enzyme.

“Turns out that Metformin is a very strong activator,” Polleux said.

The research study is also standing out as a major contribution to help bring Alzheimer’s research up to par with that of cancer and heart disease.

“Research for such devastating neuron degenerative disease is really lagging behind cancer research,” said Polleux.