"Cage vs Age": Development of an innovative nanotechnology to halt the spread of hyperphosphorylated Tau protein in Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-70% of all cases. Current medications prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease alleviate the symptoms of the disease but do not alter the brain mechanisms underpinning it. Hence, a disease modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease remains a major unmet clinical need. A major contributor to the spread of Alzheimer’s disease inside the brain is the transmission of abnormal forms of a protein called tau. In this process, abnormal tau is released from diseased brain cells and taken up by neighbouring healthy brain cells, triggering the misfolding of the normal tau inside those cells. Nanoparticles are extremely small spheres that can be modified to encapsulate and deliver drugs to a specific target within the body, which therefore enhances the efficacy of a treatment and the outcomes for patients. This project aims to harness the properties of unique nanoparticles found inside bacteria by re-engineering them into a novel nanotechnology to treat Alzheimer's disease. These naturally-occurring nanoparticles will be designed to become drug carriers that target and disrupt tau pathology, halting the progression Alzheimer’s disease inside the brain. We will take a multidisciplinary approach to achieve this goal, combining modern tools and techniques from protein engineering, materials science, pharmacology and neurobiology. This research has the potential to provide a disease-modifying treatment that would be of significant benefit to the millions of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease.