Researchers Decrease Protein Linked to Alzheimer's with Genetically Modified Rice

A research team has managed to reduce beta amyloid in the brains of mice by feeding them with genetically modified rice.

A research team from Japan has managed to reduce beta amyloid—a protein associated with Alzheimer's disease—in the brains of mice by feeding them with genetically modified rice. This achievement is an optimistic step towards developing new oral medications to treat Alzheimer’s in the future.

It is a widely held belief that an excessive amount of amyloid beta in the brain leads to Alzheimer’s disease based on the evaluation of patients’ brains having deposits known as senile plaques, which are formed by the protein.

The research team, including University of Tokyo professor Shoichi Ishiura, had been focusing their efforts on developing oral vaccines in order to create antibodies that attack beta amyloid, which could help decrease the protein.

In this most recent study, the researchers fed six mice rice containing beta amyloid genes once every 10 days for 16 months, while administering a beta amyloid injection into each mouse.

The researchers found that as the level of antibodies designed to destroy beta amyloid increased, the beta amyloid level in the brain decreased. To assess the memory of the mice, the researchers put them through a series of tests involving mazes, which showed great improvements as the administration of the antibodies continued.

Previously, the researchers crushed genetically modified leaves of sweet pepper plants which contained beta amyloid and fed them to mice with Alzheimer's disease, resulting in a decrease of the protein in their brains.

While previous vaccines in the US using beta amyloid injections have been stopped due to a serious side-effect—meningitis—Ishiura reported that oral administration of such vaccines could prevent this issue.

The group's research was published in the science journal Vaccine.