Ulrike Müller, professor for functional genomics at the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB) at Heidelberg University received the Alzheimer Research Prize 2008 from the Hans and Else Breuer Foundation, a privately-run organisation, for her achievements in molecular Alzheimer’s research.
Originally, it was assumed that it was specifically the overproduction of beta amyloid peptide that leads to the functional deficits that develop as Alzheimer’s progresses. However, investigations carried out in recent years have shown that the quantity of another APP cleavage product decreases as the disease progresses. This peptide, APPsalpha, is cleaved from APP by alpha secretases within the beta amyloid region. Thus, the process not only leads to APPsalpha, but at the same time prevents the production of harmful beta amyloid. Using new genetically modified mouse models, Ulrike Müller’s team has now been able to show that the APPsalpha fragment also has an essential function for the nervous system and in particular for spatial learning, memory and the efficiency of nerve cell communication.These basic findings are of great interest for the development of therapeutics. The objective is to develop medications that stimulate the generation of APPsalpha at the same time as counteracting the generation of beta amyloid and its deposition in plaques.
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Herms, J. et al. (2004) The EMBO J. 23, 4106 - 4115.Source: University of Heidelberg, Press Office - December 2007