Israeli scientists announce possible Alzheimer’s breakthrough

Researchers from Tel Aviv University succeed in altering gene in mice that causes the neuro-degenerative disease

Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)
Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Scientists from Tel Aviv University believe they have made a breakthrough that could help treat Alzheimer’s disease, the university said Wednesday.

Researchers lead by Professor Daniel M. Michaelson managed to change the nature of the APOE gene in mice, which has been associated with the debilitating, neuro-degenerative disease.

The gene has a healthy form called APOE3 and a disease-related form APOE4, which is found in 60 percent of sufferers.

“Researchers have developed a novel mechanism and approach with which to convert the “bad” APOE4 to the “good” APOE3,” a statement from the university said.

The results of the study, which was jointly conducted by the university and the commercial company Artery Ltd., based in California, was published last month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“APOE4 is a very important and understudied target,” Michaelson said, but noted that this was only one dimension of attempts to find a cure for the disease. “Is there really a magic bullet? One treatment that covers all aspects of Alzheimer’s? Not likely,” he said.

The researchers found in the course of administering treatment that mice, which prior to the treatment exhibited disoriented behavior and seemed lost, were able following treatment to locate a submerged island in the middle of an artificial pond.

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