Researchers find enzyme associated with Alzheimer's
From Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Scientists say they have identified an
enzyme linked to the production of protein plaques in the
brain associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to an
article published this week in the journal Science.
The plaques are thought to kill neurons, causing the
neurological degeneration found in Alzheimer's patients.
Company's stock split |
just before report
On the eve of the publication of the article, Amgen
announced strong third-quarter financial results, a stock
split and a $2 billion stock repurchase plan.
The two-for-one split of the company's common stock will be
in the form of a 100 percent stock dividend, to be
distributed November 19 to stockholders on record as of
November 5, 1999.
Alzheimer's, which affects about 4 million people in the
United States, including former President Ronald Reagan,
starts with memory loss and progresses to profound dementia
The plaques are created when a protein called APP is cleaved,
or chopped, by two enzymes: Beta-secretase and gamma-
Researchers at Amgen, a biotechnology company based in
Thousand Oaks, California, reported Thursday they have
identified beta-site APP-cleaving enzyme (BACE) as a protein
of a gene found in healthy patients and those with
For five years, scientists have tried to identify and locate
the source of beta-secretase or gamma-secretase. The hope has
been to develop a drug to inhibit production of the enzymes
and thereby stop the plaques believed to cause brain damage
in Alzheimer's patients.
Amgen would not comment on any progress the company may have
made in developing such an inhibitor. But the firm said that
even if the enzyme causes the protein plaques to form, a
commercially available drug would be at least seven years
One expert at the National Institute on Aging cautioned that
there are several theories as to how to inhibit the
production of the protein plaques in the brain associated
Scientists involved in the report said there is no guarantee
that inhibiting the production of b-secretase will inhibit
the production of the protein plaques.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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