Injecting a specific gene directly into the brain may offer a potential new therapy for halting the progress of Alzheimer's disease, especially when treated at an early stage, a new study has claimed.
Scientists from Imperial College London in the UK used a type of modified virus to deliver a gene to brain cells in mice. Previous studies by the same team suggest this gene, called PGC1-alpha, may prevent the formation of a protein called amyloid-beta peptide in cells in the lab.
Amyloid-beta peptide is the main component of amyloid plaques, the sticky clumps of protein found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. These plaques are thought to trigger the death of brain cells.
Worldwide 47.5 million people are affected by dementia -of which Alzheimer's is the most common form, researchers said. There is no cure, although current drugs can help treat the symptoms of the disease. Magdalena Sastre, senior author of the research, hopes the new findings may one day provide a method of preventing the disease, or halting it in the early stages.
"Although these findings are very early they suggest this gene therapy may have potential therapeutic use for patients," said Sastre.