Delaying Alzheimer’s disease onset with a protein derived from corn

May 5, 2022
Delaying Alzheimer’s disease onset with a protein derived from corn

Scientists at the University of Kansas (KU) have engineered an antigen using a protein from corn to combat the toxic buildup of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s). This antigen could feasibly be used in potential immunisation approaches for Alzheimer’s – the antigen has been shown to induce an immune response and improve memory in mice with the disease.

A team led by Jackob Moskovitz, Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the KU School of Pharmacy, used a recombinant methionine (Met)-rich protein derived from corn to produce an antigen rich in methionine sulfoxide (MetO). The corn-based antigen, when injected to the body, goads the immune system into producing antibodies against MetO-containing proteins, including the MetO component of beta-amyloid, a protein toxic to brain cells that is associated with Alzheimer’s.

In research published in 2011, Moskovitz showed that immunising mice with the antigen could protect brain cells from amyloid-related toxicity and reduce the buildup of plaques. According to Moskovitz, there was also a roughly 50% improvement in the memory of immunised mice.

In addition, the study showed the antigen-injected mice exhibited better long memory capabilities, reduced beta-amyloid levels in both blood-plasma and the brain, as well as “reduced beta-amyloid burden and MetO accumulations in key brain regions.”

Moskovitz suggests such an immunisation be given to people as the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases later in life, “around the time people are told to go get a colonoscopy for the first time in their 50s or 60s,” with further booster shots to maintain effectiveness.

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Category: Education, Features

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