The formation of plaque in brain tissue can be prevented by nanosized molecules of a specific chemical element. Researchers from Ume University in Sweden and researchers in Lithuania have made a new discovery that could lead to novel treatments for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
Professor Ludmilla Rochova-Roche, Ume University, says that this is a significant step that could lead to new and more effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Amyloids are formed when proteins fail to fold properly. They can cause insoluble fibrils, such as Corino de Andrade's disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinsons's, and mad cow disease. Amyloid aggregates destroy neuronal cells, and create amyloid plaques within the brain tissues.
Researchers in Ume, Sweden, Vilnius in Lithuania, and Rijeka (Croatian) discovered that certain nanosized molecules could prevent the formation of amyloids from pro-inflammatory protein S100A9. These molecules can even dissolve pre-formed amyloids. This was demonstrated by fluorescence and atomic force microscopy. These molecules are nanosized polyoxoniobates. They are also known as polyoxometalate (or polyoxometalate) ions, with a negative charge that contains the chemical element Niobium.
Ludmilla Morozova Roche says that although further research is required before we can confidently say that functional treatments can be derived from these, the results so far are very encouraging.
Researchers have been using two polyoxoniobate compounds, TiNb9 and Nb10. Both were able to inhibit SI00A9 amyloids through forming ionic interaction with positively charged patches on protein surfaces. This is critical for amyloid self assembly. The studied polyoxoniobate compounds are chemically stable and easily soluble. These molecules are very small, meaning that they are nanosized. Because of their biocompatibility, stability and high biocompatibility, these nanomolecules could be useful for medical applications like implants.
Two research groups from Ume University, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Department of Chemistry, collaborated to address the issue from different angles. They used a broad range of biophysical, biochemical, and molecular dynamics simulations, as well as a wide variety of biophysical and chemical techniques.