An enzyme involved in Alzheimer's disease also contributes to myelination of peripheral nerves, according to a study in this week in Science. Inhibitors of this enzyme, called beta-Secretase, are considered to be prime candidates for Alzheimer's treatment, so the enzyme's role in myelination may have implications for potential side effects of these drugs, the authors say."It's a mild cautionary note to those who are developing the beta-secretase drugs," said Robert Vassar of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who was not involved in the study.In Alzheimer's disease, amyloid beta (Aß) peptide accumulates in the brain. A beta-secretase enzyme called BACE1 (ß-site APP cleaving enzyme-1) is required for Aß synthesis; in BACE knockout mice, no Aß peptide is produced .Although BACE1's role in Alzheimer's is fairly well-established, not much is known about the enzyme's possible role in normal physiology, said study senior author Christian Haass of Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Münich. Led...
Michael Willemuknown Philip Wongeffective
mphillips@the-scientist.comD. Steinberg, "Testing Potential Alzheimer Vaccines," The Scientist, January 21, 2002.http://www.sciencemag.orgE. Russo, "The Search for Secretases," The Scientist, November 8, 1999.' Vassar Cai et al., "BACE1 is the major beta-secretase for generation of Abeta peptides by neurons," Nature Neuroscience, March 2001. Haass Willem Garratt et al., "Neuregulin, a factor with many functions in the life of a schwann cell," Bioessays, November 2000.

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