In This Section
- ACT has pioneered the research effort to use dietary intervention to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. Our studies have shown that a diet rich in methionine (red meat) increases the risk of developing the disease, whereas a diet low in this amino acid not only reduces the risk but reverses the cognitive deficits and brain pathology typical of Alzheimer’s disease. More recently, we have discovered that chronic intake of extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory and protects the brain against Alzheimer’s disease by facilitating the removal of toxins inside the nerve cells.
- ACT’s researchers have identified a protein in the brain called 12/15Lipoxygenase as the activator of the Beta secretase-1 enzyme, the most important player in the formation of the amyloid beta, which is the main component of the amyloid plaques in the Alzheimer’s disease brain. This discovery has opened a new avenue of research aimed at identifying inhibitors of this protein as viable disease-modifying agents for an effective therapy against the disease.
- Lifestyle has been considered as an important factor in modulating the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. We have demonstrated that sleep deprivation, a condition in which an individual has significantly less sleep, results in an increase in brain vulnerability and memory deficits which are associated with irreversible nerve cell damage secondary to the accumulation of toxic aggregates.
- We have unraveled a novel mechanism that controls the formation of another important player in Alzheimer’s disease pathology: the protein tau. Our group has demonstrated that the cyclin-dependent kinase-5 is responsible for the abnormal phosphorylation of tau which then leads to its altered solubility, and finally formation of intracellular precipitates called neurofibrillary tangles, which are ultimately responsible for the cognitive decline and memory impairments observed in the disease.
- To increase the chances of finding a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, we have launched an intense drug-discovery program based on some of those discoveries and old and new drugs inhibitors of these proteins are currently tested in cell and animal models (transgenic mice) and emerging lead compounds are being used to originate novel disease-modifying drugs.