Amyloid beta peptide (Aβ42) aggregation in the brain is thought to be responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, an insidious condition without an effective treatment or cure. Hence, a strategy to prevent aggregation and subsequent toxicity is crucial. Bio-inspired peptide-based molecules are ideal candidates for the inhibition of Aβ42 aggregation, and are currently deemed to be a promising option for drug design. In this study, a hexapeptide containing a self-recognition component unique to Aβ42 was designed to mimic the β-strand hydrophobic core region of the Aβ peptide. The peptide is comprised exclusively of D-amino acids to enhance specificity towards Aβ42, in conjunction with a C-terminal disruption element to block the recruitment of Aβ42 monomers on to fibrils. The peptide was rationally designed to exploit the synergy between the recognition and disruption components, and incorporates features such as hydrophobicity, β-sheet propensity, and charge, that all play a critical role in the aggregation process. Fluorescence assays, native ion-mobility mass spectrometry (IM-MS) and cell viability assays were used to demonstrate that the peptide interacts with Aβ42 monomers and oligomers with high specificity, leading to almost complete inhibition of fibril formation, with essentially no cytotoxic effects. These data define the peptide-based inhibitor as a potentially potent anti-amyloid drug candidate for this hitherto incurable disease.

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