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2008 Grants - Hecht
Discovery of Compounds that Prevent A-Beta Toxicity
Michael Hecht, Ph.D.
Princeton, New Jersey
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Toxic clumps of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment, are key pathological hallmarks of the Alzheimer brain. Yet scientists have not determined the exact structure of the most toxic beta-amyloid clumps. This lack of precise knowledge has prevented scientists from developing compounds that effectively target beta-amyloid. However, many investigators believe that such anti-amyloid compounds already exist but have not been adequately tested by Alzheimer research.
Michael Hecht, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to search through more than 150,000 compounds to determine if any of them might be useful in blocking toxic beta-amyloid accumulations. For this effort, they will use a sophisticated, computer-based screening technique. After they have selected promising compounds, they will test the molecules' amyloid-fighting abilities in cultured cells and in roundworms engineered to develop Alzheimer-like symptoms.
Results of this effort could identify potential Alzheimer drugs that could be tested in studies with mammals and, ultimately, in human clinical trials. Such drugs could provide the basis for more precise Alzheimer treatments.