Index | Round
Tables | Selected
Abstracts | News
Fibril-busting Mystery Herb
by Brian J. Cummings
22 July 1998. While a number of drug companies have been pumping big
bucks into creating novel molecules capable of inhibiting formation of A-beta
fibrils, along comes Alan Snow and his colleagues at the University of Washington
and his Seattle-based company, ProteoTech, Inc., with a commercially available
"plant extract" that appears to do the trick (abstract 1070).
This substance can apparently dissolve pre-exisiting amyloid fibrils in
an in vitro Thioflavin T fluorometry assay. Snow presented data that this
compound can "dissolve" both Abeta1-42 fibrils and islet amyloid
Snow indicated that this substance was discovered by screening off-the-shelf
health food supplements and finding one that yielded positive results in
the Thioflavin assay. He also stated that this food supplement is readily
available and produced by several different manufactures, although he declined
to identify the compound. In response to the question about adsorption in
the gut and whether this compound can cross the blood brain barrier, Snow
said that those tests have not been run. He added that the extract is a
low molecular weight lipophilic compound, so he has hopes that it will get
into the brain.
Snow's company is currently negotiating with a major supplier of the
extract to run a human clinical trial, although it might be more appropriate
to first test the compound in a transgenic mouse. Snow said such tests have
not yet been done, and he would be interested in such a study. Got mice?
Give him a call. I'll hold off on buying stock until data shows that compound
X can cross the blood brain barrier in sufficient quantities to actually
reduce Abeta plaques in a transgenic animal.