Novel treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease
One research focus is the investigation of the underlying mechanisms and causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that has been described as the pandemic of the 21st century. With an ever-aging population this disease has become the focus of intensive research to investigate the pathology of this disease with the hope of developing an effective treatment. One of the hallmarks of this disease is the appearance of amyloid protein aggregates in the brain. Currently, the cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration induced by different amyloid fragments are under intense investigation. The neurodegenerative effects of amyloid fragments activate a cascade of biochemical processes that eventually lead to cell death. Recently research has identified type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) as a risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The Neuroscience Group at The University of Ulster investigates the link between disturbances in the insulin signalling system in the brain as a risk factor of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The Diabetes research group at The University of Ulster has developed novel peptides for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. These peptides have growth factor -like properties and are very promising in preventing neurodegeneration induced by amyloid fragments. (see also the review Holscher, 2010, Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery, 5: 109-117). The focus of the Neuroscience Group is to investigate the effects of novel peptides as a potential treatment in Alzheimer’s disease. For this we use several animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease that develop aspects of the disease, such as the development of beta-amyloid plaques. We the effects of these novel peptides using the techniques of in vivo recording of neuronal activity, a battery of different learning tasks, biochemical and histological analysis, has on AD pathology, learning, and memory.