Hope Center researchers have developed an innovative technique to investigate the buildup of a protein in patients with Alzheimer’s. This research could lead to treatment of Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

Researchers from Washington University and the Hope Center will partner with pharmaceutical companies AbbVie, Biogen, and Eli Lilly & Co. to investigate the buildup and clearance of tau protein. In Alzheimer’s disease as well as other “tauopathies,” such as progressive supranuclear palsy and frontotemporal dementia, clumps of tau protein are abnormally deposited in nerve cells in tangles.

The Hope Center will coordinate the partnership, called the tau SILK Consortium. SILK stands for Stable Isotope Labeling Kinetics, a technique developed by Hope Center scientist Randall Batement, MD,Chihiro Sato and Nico Barthelemy that monitor alterations in the rate at which tau is produced, released and cleared from the brain and its surrounding fluid in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We will determine if and how rates of tau production and clearance are altered in Alzheimer’s disease, which will provide essential information on how to design trials for Alzheimer’s disease and assist in the development of potential treatments that target tau,” said Bateman, the principle investigator of the tau SILK Consortium.

Read more in the news release from Washington University.

Two brains for ALS Study

Scientists at Washington University are collaborating with the pharmaceutical companies AbbVie, Biogen and Eli Lilly & Co. to investigate the buildup and clearance of tau protein in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The PET image on the left shows the average tau accumulation in the brains of cognitively normal people, averaged over many individuals. The image on the right shows the average amount of tau buildup in the brains of multiple people with mild Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Randall Bateman, MD

Randall Bateman, MD