Scientists uncover molecule that effectively removes Alzheimer plaques

12/09/2015 - 07:49

Christopher Wanjek

Scientists in Korea have found a small molecule that, when added to the drinking water of mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease, washed away the protein plaques associated with the disease and improved the mice's learning and memory functions.

The chemical, called EPPS — short for 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1- piperazinepropanesulphonic acid — posed no ill effect for the mice even at high doses. The scientists hope to conduct further studies to determine whether the EPPS is safe and effective for humans with Alzheimer's disease.


Ref: EPPS rescues hippocampus-dependent cognitive deficits in APP/PS1 mice by disaggregation of amyloid-β oligomers and plaques. Nature Communications (8 December 2015) | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9997


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the transition of amyloid-β (Aβ) monomers into toxic oligomers and plaques. Given that Aβ abnormality typically precedes the development of clinical symptoms, an agent capable of disaggregating existing Aβ aggregates may be advantageous. Here we report that a small molecule, 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazinepropanesulphonic acid (EPPS), binds to Aβ aggregates and converts them into monomers. The oral administration of EPPS substantially reduces hippocampus-dependent behavioural deficits, brain Aβ oligomer and plaque deposits, glial γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release and brain inflammation in an Aβ-overexpressing, APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model when initiated after the development of severe AD-like phenotypes. The ability of EPPS to rescue Aβ aggregation and behavioural deficits provides strong support for the view that the accumulation of Aβ is an important mechanism underlying AD.