UCLA researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a novel approach to inhibit the aggregation of tau proteins in the brain, which is linked to over 20 dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Aggregation of tau protein is linked to cognitive decline in over 20 dementias including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disorder associated with repetitive head trauma that is enriched in certain populations including athletes who participate in high impact sports, and soldiers. A recent study has shown that downy woodpeckers self-inflict repetitive head traumas daily and have evolved numerous anatomical adaptations to protect against head trauma. The downy woodpecker has accrued sequence adaptions in its tau protein sequence to auto-suppress its aggregation and the seeded spread of tau aggregates. This suggests that studying the downy woodpecker may provide insight for the prevention of human tau protein dementias.
UCLA researchers have identified a novel sequence from the downy woodpecker called WP1 that is protective against tau protein aggregation. The WP1 protein can be simply added as a peptide to prevent tau protein aggregation. WP1 can also be formulated as a cell-penetrating sequence which can further increase the delivery and efficacy of tau protein aggregation prevention. Finally, incorporation of nucleic acid encoding WP1 in a suitable vector, or by insertion into the tau gene itself, may facilitate improved cellular and CNS delivery for the inhibition of tau aggregation in animal cells.
tau protein, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, amyloid, aggregation, gene therapy, peptide inhibitor, woodpecker, dementia, neurodegenerative disease, neurodegeneration