“Our research has provided a different path that may extend the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease. However, it would take testing in animal models and clinical trials before bringing in such new therapeutic approaches into human treatment” said one of the project coordinators, Professor Vibin Ramakrishnan of Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at the institute.
Along with Professor Vibin Ramakrishnan, the research team is jointly headed by Professor Harshal Nemade of Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering.
“The IIT Guwahati team reports interesting methods such as application of low-voltage electric field, and the use of ‘trojan peptides’ to arrest aggregation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain. The scientists are assisted by research scholars Dr. Gaurav Pandey and Jahnu Saikia in their work, and the results of their studies have been published in reputed journals such as ACS Chemical Neuroscience, RSC Advances of Royal Society of Chemistry, BBA and Neuropeptides,” a statement said.
“Approximately hundred potential drugs for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have failed between 1998 and 2011, which shows the gravity of the problem,” says Professor Ramakrishnan, who participates in worldwide efforts at finding cures for the disease.
A defining hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of Amyloid beta peptides in the brain. Dr. Ramakrishnan and Dr. Nemade are seeking methods to reduce the accumulation of these peptides, in order to arrest the progression of Alzeimer’s.
In 2019, IIT Guwahati scientists found that application of a low-voltage, safe electrical field can reduce the formation and accumulation of toxic neurodegenerative molecules that cause short-term memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease. They found that external electric/magnetic field modulates the structure of these peptide molecules, thereby preventing aggregation.
“Upon exposure to electric field, we could retard the degeneration of nerve cells to an extent of 17-35 %. Objectively, this would translate to about 10 years delay in the onset of the disease”, Professor Ramakrishnan said.
Working further in this area, the scientists explored the possibility of using ‘Trojan peptides’ to arrest aggregation of these neurotoxic molecules. The idea of using ‘Trojan peptide’ comes from mythological “Trojan Horse” used as subterfuge by the Greeks in the battle of Troy. The researchers have designed Trojan peptides by adopting a similar approach of ‘deceit’ to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide, arrest the formation of toxic fibrillar assemblies, and reduce poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.