Scientists at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, collaboratingwith Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co. of Tokyo, have created atransgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

The New York mice showed degenerative changes that moreclosely mimic the neuronal changes of the human disease thantwo other models reported earlier this year, and showed thedamage at a relatively early age.

Reporting today in Nature, the researchers demonstrated thatmice given a gene that makes a portion of the amyloidprecursor protein (APP) develop amyloid plaques,neurofibrillary tangles and cell loss.

By 4 months of age, the mice showed diffuse amyloid deposits,which have also appeared in the other transgenic mice. But at 8months, the animals showed the dense plaques characteristic ofthe advanced human disease, as well as the tangles.

"These transgenic mice demonstrate that a single disturbance,overproduction of the carboxyl terminal of APP, can lead to allof the major neuropathological features observed" inAlzheimer's, the researchers noted.

The animals should prove useful as "a test system fortherapeutic intervention," the scientists concluded.

California Biotechnology Inc. (NASDAQ:CBIO) of Mountain View,Calif., and Miles Research Center of West Haven, Conn., havecolonies of mice that transmit and express the human gene forAPP and beta amyloid, respectively.

But because the Yamanouchi model more closely resembles thehuman condition, Alzheimer's researcher Dennis Selkoe ofHarvard called the new mice "the most intriguing yet" in areview accompanying the report.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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