Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) Munich and Denali Therapeutics (South San Francisco, CA, USA) have developed an approach to stimulate immune cells of the brain in such a way that they might possibly provide better protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Their report has been published in the journal “EMBO Molecular Medicine”. These findings could ultimately enable development of novel therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers identified a specific antibody that binds to the brain’s immune cells, termed “microglia”. This stimulates their activity in such a way that they live longer, divide more quickly and detect aberrant substances more easily. In mice with disease symptoms resembling those of Alzheimer’s, studies revealed that deposits of proteins (called “plaques”) were recognized and degraded more quickly. The notorious plaques are among the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, and are suspected to cause neuronal damage.