Peptide delivered by nasal spray can reduce seizure activity, protect neurons in Alzheimer’s, epilepsy

A novel peptide augments the brain’s natural mechanism to help prevent seizures and protect neurons in research models of both Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, scientists report.

The A1R-CT peptide the scientists developed, which can be administered through a nasal spray, holds promise for tamping down the uncontrolled electrical activity that is common after traumatic brain injury, stroke and which affects more than half of individuals with Alzheimer’s, says Dr. Qin Wang, neuropharmacologist and founding director of the Program for Alzheimer’s Therapeutics Discovery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

The fact that it can be delivered through the nose indicates the peptide’s potential as a new seizure rescue medication as well, to help interrupt, for example, a seizure cluster, where disabling seizures are occurring back-to- back, says Wang, corresponding author of the study in the journal JCI Insight.

A1R-CT works by inhibiting neurabin, a protein that helps ensure that the protective mechanism itself, which tamps down the hyperexcitability of neurons that disrupts normal communication and produces seizures, doesn’t overdo, she says.

The peptide was named after the protective adenosine 1 receptor on the surface of neurons, which gets activated by adenosine, a chemical made mostly in the brain by neuron-supporting glial cells in response to hyperexcitability.

“This is a powerful receptor to then silence the neurons,” Wang says. This natural, calming relationship also is known to block electrical activity that can result in an irregular heartbeat. In fact, an injectable form of adenosine is used to treat a very high heart rate.

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