A mutant protein dubbed “Shmoose” raises the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50 per cent and is carried by nearly one quarter of Europeans, scientists have found.
Researchers at the University of Southern California believe that the microprotein Shmoose plays a crucial role in keeping up energy levels and metabolism in the central nervous system, helping to maintain good brain health.
But the mutant version does not seem to be as active, scientists found, potentially starving the brain of power.
The team found that nearly a quarter of people of European ancestry have the mutated version of the protein, which increased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by between 20 and 50 per cent.
However the researchers believe that the non-mutated protein could be administered like a drug, as a potential new treatment for those at risk.
Developing precision medicine-based therapies
In a new paper in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, they concluded that Schmoose has “vast implications” for neurological diseases
“This discovery opens exciting new directions for developing precision medicine-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on ‘Shmoose’ as a target area,” said Pinchas Cohen, professor of gerontology, medicine and biological sciences and senior author of the study.
“Administration of ‘Shmoose’ analogs in individuals who carry the mutation and produce the mutant protein may prove to have benefit in neurodegenerative and other diseases of ageing.”