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2008 Grants - Williams
Medicines from Marine Sources
Philip Williams, Ph.D.
University of Hawaii
2008 New Investigator Research Grant
Currently, there are no drug therapies known to slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Philip Williams, Ph.D., and colleagues are taking advantage of known properties of specific marine organisms to search for drugs for treating the disease. The researchers are focusing on identifying and isolating chemicals from marine sponges and cyanobacteria that inhibit the enzyme BACE1, which is a key enzyme in the production of molecules contributing to Alzheimer pathology. These marine organisms are rich sources of chemicals that are closely related to chemicals known to inhibit BACE1.
Dr. Williams and colleagues have already identified several chemical compounds that inhibit BACE1, two of which are active at very low concentrations. The researchers have also developed a new process for identifying and isolating new chemical compounds from a complex mixture. They now plan to adapt this process for use in isolating compounds that inhibit BACE1 in cultured cells. These studies may identify chemical compounds that selectively inhibit a key enzyme contributing to progression of Alzheimer's disease. Such compounds could then be studied for their suitability for treating the disease in animal models and humans.