Christine Lawrence MD

by Christine Lawrence MD

By now most people are familiar with the association of the tangle and plaques in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The plaques are a sticky protein, amyloid-B, that congregates on surfaces of brain tissue, and impedes neural communication. Plaque formation precedes the memory loss associated with the disease by 10 to 15 years.

EPPS, a small molecule with a big name (4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1- piperazinepropanesulphonic acid)  is a taurine-like protein used as a buffering agent in biology and biochemistry.

The researchers in the Korea Institute of Science and Technology discovered this chemical in test tube experiments to bind to amyloid, and “disaggregate” or dissolve clumps of amyloid.

When EPPS was added to the drinking water of mice, who were genetically engineered to develop a disease similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, it was shown to both impede, and also to decrease the aggregated amyloid in their brain tissue. These mice subsequently showed enhancements in learning and memory. This small taurine-like molecule was not toxic to the mice in large doses.

It is hopeful that EPPS, which is able to pass the blood-brain barrier because of its small size, might be an effective agent in prevention of, and or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies in humans need to be done to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of EPPS

In the words of Dr Frances Edwards, Reader in Neurophysiology at University College London, “this could be a very interesting drug indeed”. “There are reasons for cautious optimism”.

Christine Lawrence Distinguished University Professor of Medicine Emerita at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine