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X-rays reveal the key to the effectiveness of new alzheimers drugs

16 April 2015

Researchers from St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research have used the Australian Synchrotron to reveal important new detail of the structure of a drug currently in advanced clinical trials to combat Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof Michael Parker and his research team have revealed how the drug, Solanezumab, interacts with brain proteins associated with the development of Alzheimer’s; the findings highlight what makes current therapies for the disease effective, and show how these therapies can be improved.

Prof Parker’s team used the high-intensity X-ray beams from the Macromolecular Crystallography (MX) beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron to visualise the structure at a resolution powerful enough to see how Solanezumab, an antibody, interacts with a toxic peptide thought by many to cause the disease.

‘This research shows us how the drug interacts with a peptide that forms plaques in the brain, symptomatic of Alzheimer’s; these peptides are otherwise difficult for the body’s immune system to clear,’ Prof Parker says.

Solanezumab works by identifying foreign molecules and ‘escorting’ them to other parts of the immune system that destroy them.

Prof Parker says the research shows the drug seems to behave in a fashion similar to a second Alzheimer’s drug, Crenezumab, also in clinical trials.

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