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Natural Alzheimer's weapon suggests better treatment
Date:6/20/2011

ants to exploit this natural system by developing a smaller version of the molecular chaperone that could be put into the bloodstream to leach excess Abeta from the brain. The brain has a natural protective mechanism that likely would prevent its direct application. However, the natural affinity of amyloid beta and HspB1 indicates a more distant approach could be effective. "We want to come up with smaller versions of HspB1 that can be put into the bloodstream so you can sop up the material from the brain into the blood where it can be cleared more efficiently." He also wants to explore a way to increase brain cells' natural production of protective HspB1.

Neurons actually also make the Abeta believed to attack them in Alzheimer's. The peptide's normal function in the brain is not clear, but early evidence suggests it could be involved in synaptic pruning, which is essential for memory formation. Synapses connect neurons and some existing connections must be cut for new connections and memories to be made. Why neurons start making too much Abeta and how its overproduction can be controlled are million-dollar questions, Cashikar said.

A related ongoing debate is whether the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillarly tangles, insoluble globs of protein also found in Alzheimer's, are a cause or result of the disease. Cashikar's work as well as new studies on the neurofibrillarly tangles, suggest both are protective mechanisms. Also, there is evidence of both in the brains of some healthy, elderly individuals.

GHSU Graduate Student Juhi Ojha is first author on the paper.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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