Researchers find possible cure for Alzheimer’s deep in human bones- The New Indian Express

Researchers find possible cure for Alzheimer’s deep in human bones- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what may lead to a major breakthrough in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, two researchers, one of whom is from Kerala University (KU), have found that a human bone peptide can clear the build-up of amyloid, the protein in the brain that causes such disorders.

Researchers find possible cure for Alzheimer’s deep in human bones- The New Indian Express
Viji Vijayan and Sarika Gupta

The unique property of the peptide, osteocalcin, was detected during the research being carried out at the National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, jointly by Viji Vijayan, assistant professor at the biochemistry department in KU, and NII faculty Sarika Gupta. The finding won the NII a patent from the US Patent and Trademark office.

“The patent acknowledging the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of osteocalcin will open avenues for advanced research in the treatment of not just Alzheimer’s but also a wide range of other diseases,” Viji, spouse of former MP P K Biju, told The New Indian Express. Viji and Sarika found that osteocalcin, which crosses the blood-brain barrier, interacts with amyloid beta peptide to form prefibrillar structures. “Formation of such structures can enable clearance of amyloids, improving learning and memory,” she said.

At present, chemical substances used to treat Alzheimer’s have several adverse effects on patients during clinical trials. However, the use of osteocalcin, which is produced in the human body, will not lead to such complications, as was demonstrated in pre-clinical experiments on mice.

Deficiency may allow early diagnosis

Viji and Sarika are hopeful of reaffirming the benefits of treatment using osteocalcin once the findings reach the stage of clinical trials on humans.

The study also indicates that bone strength could also have a bearing on brain health. A large number of trials have shown that bone loss is very prominent in Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers are examining if this loss in bone density happens due to a deficit of osteocalcin. “Osteocalcin deficiency in children can be used as a marker for the possible occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease in old age. This could be helpful in taking corrective measures at an early stage,” said Viji. She joined KU’s biochemistry department in 2020.

The department has a neurobiology lab set up using the varsity’s plan funds besides assistance from the Department of Science and Technology’s SERB POWER and UGC’s BSR (Basic Scientific Research) startup grants. The lab currently focuses on understanding not just Alzheimer’s disease but also the pathogenesis of Schizophrenia.

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