TPTX » Topics » Background: Amyloid Inhibitory Peptides (AIPs) and Prion Inhibitory Peptides (PIPs)

This excerpt taken from the TPTX 10-K filed Mar 16, 2006.

Background: Amyloid Inhibitory Peptides (AIPs) and Prion Inhibitory Peptides (PIPs)

          In AD the conversion of beta-amyloid protein into insoluble beta-sheets that aggregate to form insoluble fibrous masses (fibrils) is a key event that leads eventually to neuronal cell death in the brains of AD patients. These fibrils are deposited as part of the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that appear to cause the death of neurons in the brain. The beta-amyloid protein is a protein normally found in the brain that is over-produced in AD.


          The AIPs, also referred to as beta-sheet breaker peptides, have been designed to block the aggregation of beta-amyloid in a competitive manner by binding to the beta-sheet form of the amyloid protein, thus preventing the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. The beta-sheet breaker peptide is a molecule composed of naturally occurring amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which is designed to bind to and prevent the conversion of the normal form of protein to the misshapen form that forms plaques.

          In experiments in vitro and in vivo at labs at New York University (NYU) with one of the AIPs, the compound inhibited the formation of amyloid fibrils, caused disassembly of preformed fibrils and prevented neuronal cell death in cell culture. In a rat model of amyloidosis, an AIP reduced beta-amyloid protein deposition and significantly blocked the formation of amyloid fibrils. In addition, one of the AIPs has been shown to cause a significant reduction of established amyloid deposits in the brains of rats. These results indicate the potential for a drug based on the AIP technology to prevent the formation of the amyloid plaques, and to treat AD patients who already have amyloid plaques. Thus, the AIPs may not only prevent the formation of amyloid plaques in but also disassemble existing amyloid plaques.

          There is increasing evidence that prions are the infectious agents that cause Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, new variant (nvCJD) and possibly other prion-related diseases. These diseases have caused grave concern in Europe and the U.S. because of the potential for their transmission to humans through the meat supply. These fatal neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by spongiform degeneration of the brain and, in many cases, by deposits of prions into plaques. The infectivity of prions is believed to be associated with an abnormal folding of the prion protein. This folding involves a conversion of the alpha-helical form to the beta-sheet form that can be deposited in plaques in the brain.

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