Feb. 28 (UPI) -- New research from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, or UNIST, in South Korea has created a metal-based substance that works to cut out amyloid-β, the protein vital for the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common forms of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in older adults. While the exact cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, the aggregation of the protein amyloid-β, or Aβ, is a contributing factor in the formation of neuritic plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
Researchers found that by hydrolyzing, a process of splitting a molecule apart using water, amyloid-beta proteins using a crystal structure called tetra-N methylated cyclam, or TMC, they could reduce the toxicity of Aβ.
The team used cobalt, nickel, copper and zinc placed at the center of the TMC structure and found that when double-layered cobalt was added to the center, the hydrolysis activity was highest.
The cobalt-based metal complex had the potential to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and the hydrolysis activity for nonamyloid protein was low.
"This material has a high therapeutic potential in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease as it can penetrate the brain-vascular barrier and directly interact with the amyloid-beta protein in the brain," Professor Mi Hee Lim of UNIST and lead author of the study, said in a press release.