Researchers Explore New Way to Deliver Memory Loss Treatment to the Brain

Joana Fernandes, PhD avatar

by Joana Fernandes, PhD |

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Alzheimer's research

A treatment that uses microscopic droplets of fat – called nanoliposomes – to carry drugs to the brain has  been used effectively to target cancer cells. Now the technique has shown promise in restoring memory loss in mice models of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.

The study, “Retro-Inverso Peptide Inhibitor Nanoparticles As Potent Inhibitors Of Aggregation Of The Alzheimer’s Aβ Peptide,” was published in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

The hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the toxic accumulation of the beta-amyloid protein, which blocks the proper functioning of neurons. This new treatment delivers nanoliposomes decorated with protein particles that can stop the accumulation of the beta-amyloid protein. The fat molecules that the nanoliposomes are made of fuse with the cell’s envelope, delivering the protein fragments into neurons.

Researchers observed that, even in low amounts, the protein particles rescued cultured neurons from the toxic effect of accumulated beta-amyloid. They also observed that injecting the nanoliposomes containing the protein fragments in mice with Alzheimer’s disease for three weeks provided protection against memory loss.

“As the most potent [beta-amyloid] aggregation inhibitor that we have tested so far, we propose to develop [protein particles] as a potential disease-modifying treatment for [Alzheimer’s disease],” the study authors wrote.

Recent studies have shown that nanoliposomes can pass directly into the brain through the nose, suggesting that these can be administered by a simple nasal spray.

“Using nanoliposomes offers an alternative way to inhibit the toxic build-up of amyloid plaques without activating an immune response in the brain,” David Allsop, leading author of the study, said in a press release. “Our hope is that this could one day be administered by something as simple and non-invasive as a nasal spray, which patients could use in the comfort of their own home,” he said.

“With no new dementia drugs in nearly 15 years, we’re at a critical time for dementia research. It’s absolutely vital we continue to sniff-out new approaches to getting drugs into the brain,” Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society said. “While we wait in anticipation for the results of ongoing clinical trials, Alzheimer’s Society will continue to fund innovative research to tackle dementia head-on.”

“Nanotechnology is promising great benefits to people with many different types of cancer, and it’s exciting that it could one day offer the same hope to people with the most common form of dementia,” he added.