Professor Armin Giese from the Center for Neuropathology and Prion Research at the LMU Munich and researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn have analyzed a novel substance that could serve as a prototype for the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. Known as “anle138b,” this substance ameliorated disease symptoms in mice and improved their cognition.

Under normal conditions, the tau proteins stabilize the microtubules that are part of the cytoskeleton of neurons in the brain. The cytoskeleton gives the cell mechanical stability and serves as a transport network for substances essential to the cell’s metabolism. However, in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, the tau proteins have undergone an alteration: they become detached from microtubules and aggregate into filamentous tau-tangles. As a result, the microtubules’ function and the cell’s metabolism are impaired, which eventually leads to neuronal death.

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