The natural product epothilone D has taken another step down the long road toward becoming a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study (J. Neurosci., DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.4922-11.2012). University of Pennsylvania researchers led by Kurt R. Brunden administered the compound for three months to mice with tau protein already aggregated in their brains. The drug improved the aged rodents’ cognition and nerve-cell integrity and, surprisingly, reduced tau aggregates in their brains. Tau protein normally stabilizes microtubules, the railroad tracks in nerve cells responsible for transporting cargo such as neurotransmitters. In Alzheimer’s patients, however, tau misfolds and aggregates, causing the microtubules to malfunction. Amos B. Smith III, the member of the research team who presented the work in San Diego, explained that rather than targeting tau, epothilone D stabilizes microtubules. A 2010 study of young mice by the same Penn team showed that the compound slows down the tau-related effects of Alzheimer’s (J. Neurosci., DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.3059-10.2010). But that was a “prophylactic” study, Smith said. The new work, he explained, looked at the drug’s effects after the disease had developed “full bore.”
C&EN Covers The ACS National Meeting
Want the scoop on the ACS meeting in San Diego? Check out C&EN Picks, a series of videos that spotlight sessions selected by C&EN staff. Reporters also fan out across the meeting to bring you news coverage. Find it all collected at C&EN's meeting page, cenatacs.tumblr.com.