- News Home
12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
Nicotine and Alzheimer's
22 October 1996 8:00 pm
WASHINGTON--Nicotine prevents the formation in the test tube of protein clumps linked to Alzheimer's disease, scientists announced at a press conference today. The finding may provide a useful starting point for developing drugs that delay or prevent the disease. The researchers are quick to caution, however, that harmful effects of smoking--strengthened by a report in Science last week linking a carcinogenic byproduct of cigarette smoke to a specific kind of lung tumor--far outweigh any possible benefit from nicotine in tobacco.
Michael Zagorski, a biochemist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and his colleagues were looking for a biochemical mechanism to explain why smokers appear to have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's. They found that nicotine prevents aggregation of beta amyloid, a protein that forms damaging plaques in Alzheimer's patients' brains. The researchers added nicotine to a solution of beta amyloid, which can take several shapes. They found that nicotine binds to the soluble protein and prevents it from aggregating in a form found in Alzheimer's plaques. The results of the study, which was partially funded by the tobacco firm Philip Morris, are published in this month's Biochemistry.
The findings are "intriguing," says neurobiologist Neil Buckholtz, director of Alzheimer's research at the National Institute on Aging. However, he points out, the concentrations of beta amyloid and nicotine in the study are much higher than levels in the brain. Still, nicotine or related compounds might someday be used as a drug to delay or prevent Alzheimer's, says Ken Keller, a pharmacologist at Georgetown University Medical Center. Don't expect nicotine to cure Alzheimer's, however. ``No one thinks nicotine is going to be a turnaround drug,'' Keller says.