Peptides with Neuroprotective Properties, Identified in Early Study, May Help Alzheimer’s Patients

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by Magdalena Kegel |

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aging processes and peptides

A family of six mitochondrial small humanin-like peptides (SHLPs) showed promising effects on cell survival and metabolism in preclinical studies of aging, a finding with long-reaching implications for age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings were announced by the biotechnology company CohBar, which holds the exclusive license for developing SHLPs into therapeutics, in a press release.

Performed by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) and the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the studies showed that SHLP2 – one of the peptides whose levels decline with age — had properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The research article, “Naturally Occurring Mitochondrial-derived Peptides are Age-dependent Regulators of Apoptosis, Insulin Sensitivity, and Inflammatory Markers,” was published in the journal Aging.

Findings also indicated that SHLPs could be used in treatment approaches for diabetes and cancer, as the peptide family is associated with neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory characteristics, and alters metabolic functions of cells.

The family of SHLPs was identified using a computer-based analysis of the mitochondrial genome. These powerhouses of cells were previously believed to harbor only 37 genes — a notion that CohBar and its academic partners have helped overturn, in reporting the genome has dozens of potential new genes that may encode peptides capable of influencing cellular activities.

“Together with the previously described mitochondrial-derived peptides humanin and MOTS-c, the SHLP family expands our understanding of the role that these peptides play in intracellular signaling throughout the body to regulate both metabolism and cell survival,” said Pinchas Cohen, the study’s senior author, dean of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and the founder and director of CohBar. “These findings further illustrate the enormous potential that mitochondria-based therapeutics could have on treating age-associated diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.”

“The pre-clinical evidence continues to confirm that these peptides represent a new class of naturally occurring metabolic regulators,” said Simon Allen, CohBar’s CEO. “They form the foundation of our pipeline of first-in-class treatments for age-related diseases and we are committed to rapidly advancing them through pre-clinical and clinical activities as we move forward.”

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