Washington: Researchers have discovered an enzyme that can destroy the toxic protein that litters in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Florida found the enzyme known as BACE2 destroys beta-amyloid, a toxic protein fragment in the brains of patients who have Alzheimer's disease.
The study led by Malcolm A Leissring tested hundreds of enzymes for the ability to lower beta-amyloid levels.
BACE2 was found to lower beta-amyloid more effectively than all other enzymes tested. Interestingly, BACE2 is closely related to another enzyme, known as BACE1, involved in producing beta-amyloid.
"Despite their close similarity, the two enzymes have completely opposite effects on beta-amyloid —BACE1 giveth, while BACE2 taketh away," Leissring said in a statement.
The research showed that BACE2 cuts beta-amyloid into smaller pieces, thereby destroying it. Although other enzymes are known to break down beta-amyloid, BACE2 is particularly efficient at this function, the study found.
The researchers will now study whether blocking beta-amyloid destruction by BACE2 can increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease in a mouse model of the disease.