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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-III :
  • 22 May, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

IIT Guwahati discovers new ways to prevent memory loss due to Alzheimer

IIT Guwahati discovers new ways to prevent memory loss due to Alzheimer

Context

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has worked on out-of-the-box ideas that can help prevent or reduce short-term memory losses associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

They studied the neurochemical principles of Alzheimer’s, and explored new ways to prevent accumulation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain that are associated with short-term memory loss.

Methods used

  • The IIT Guwahati team reports interesting methods such as application of low-voltage electric field, and the use of ‘trojan peptides’ to arrest aggregation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain.
  • They found that external electric/magnetic field modulates the structure of these peptide molecules, thereby preventing aggregation.
  • Upon exposure to electric field, we could retard the degeneration of nerve cells to an extent of 17–35%. Objectively, this would translate to about 10 years delay in the onset of the disease
  • The idea of using ‘Trojan peptide’ comes from mythological “Trojan Horse” used as subterfuge by the Greeks in the battle of Troy.
  • The researchers have designed Trojan peptides by adopting a similar approach of ‘deceit’ to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide, arrest the formation of toxic fibrillar assemblies, and reduce poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.

Importance of this discovery

  • The development of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease assumes importance India as it has the third highest number of Alzheimer’s patients in the world, after China and US, with more than four million people falling prey to the memory loss associated with it.
  • While current treatments only alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, there is no disruptive therapeutic approach yet that can treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.
  • Approximately hundred potential drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have failed between 1998 and 2011, which shows the gravity of the problem.
  • A defining hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of amyloid beta peptides in the brain.

Source: PIB


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