Researchers devise a new mRNA technology strategy for tackling Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers at The Florey have recently developed a new mRNA technology approach to target the toxic protein tau, which is known to accumulate in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This marks the first instance where mRNA has been explored for potential use in Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

Dr. Rebecca Nisbet, who led the research team at The Florey, compares mRNA to an instruction manual for cells, explaining that once the cell absorbs the mRNA, it proceeds to produce an antibody. In this case, Dr. Nisbet devised an antibody called RNJ1 that targets tau, a harmful protein that forms clumps in the brain cells of individuals with dementia. The research team harnessed mRNA to instruct cells in cell models to generate RNJ1. According to Dr. Nisbet, this is the initial instance where a tau antibody can directly interact with tau within the cell.

PhD student Patricia Wongsodirdjo, who was the lead author of the paper published in Brain Communications, anticipates that their technique can extend to various therapeutic antibodies. Their vision is for this strategy, in conjunction with nanoparticle packaging, to enhance the targeting of toxic substances in the brain and improve patient outcomes as compared to standard approaches.

Dr. Nisbet acknowledges that further research is required on RNJ1 but believes that emerging Alzheimer’s treatments like lecanemab show promise. However, she explains that their production is cost-intensive and ineffective in delivering an active antibody into brain cells compared to traditional approaches using mRNA technology.

Overall, this study positions The Florey as a significant contributor to the mRNA field and highlights its potential for treating neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease by directly targeting harmful proteins within brain cells through innovative technology approaches like mRNA-based therapies.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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