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Pioneers in Alzheimer's research: Research couple honored for its lifetime achievement
Date:7/16/2013

The research couple receives the "2013 Khalid Iqbal Lifetime Achievement Award" for its role as pioneers in investigating the role of tau in Alzheimer's disease. The award ceremony was held yesterday (10:45 am US EST) within the framework of the "Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC 2013)" in Boston (USA).

Eva-Maria and Eckhard Mandelkow have with their team achieved significant progress in Alzheimer's research in the course of their studies of a protein called "Tau". It is the basic substance of so-called neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) - tiny protein deposits that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. In the normal state, tau binds the cytoskeleton of neurons, in particular, it stabilizes the transport routes, along which their substances are transported within cells. Very early in Alzheimer's disease, the tau protein however changes, detaches itself from the cytoskeleton and agglomerates.

Since the 1990s, Eva-Maria and Eckhard Mandelkow have analyzed this protein. Longtime, the importance of the tau protein in Alzheimer's disease has been underestimated. "At that time, no one would have thought that tau has such a significant role. However, we have pursued this approach because we have been interested in the role of Tau in nerve cells" said Eva-Maria Mandelkow.

In pioneering studies, she and her husband have shown why the tau protein lumps in the brain and which sections of the molecular structure are thereby decisive. These findings allowed the couple to examine the consequences of the aggregation of the tau protein for the nerve cells in more detail. The result: Modifications of normal tau destroy the synapses of nerve cells. This is for example shown by studies on mice. If the protein accumulates in nerve cells, these mice perform worse in learning and memory tests than healthy animals and develop typical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. In the event that the production of the toxic tau in the cells is st
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Contact: Dirk Förger
presse@dzne.de
49-228-433-02260
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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