Available treatments for Alzheimer’s disease offer relatively small symptomatic benefits and more effective treatments are much needed. β-Amyloid has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and much attention has focussed on inhibiting two enzymes responsible for production of this peptide, the β- and γ-secretases. Although potent inhibitors of both enzymes have been identified, achieving robust activity in animal models and progression to clinical studies has proved more challenging. Using a high-throughput functional genomics screen, scientists at VIB and Galapagos Pharmaceuticals have now identified a constitutively expressed orphan G protein-coupled receptor, GPR3, as another modulator of β-amyloid production. GPR3 is highly expressed in areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease and levels are elevated in brain tissue from people with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers showed that blocking GPR3 prevented accumulation of β-amyloid, both in cell culture experiments and in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since G protein-coupled receptors have been relatively easy to exploit as drug targets, the scientists hope that GPR3 will prove to be a promising target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study is published in the February 13th issue of the journal Science.