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New Alzheimer's research suggests possible cause: The interaction of proteins in the brain
Date:6/19/2013

PORTLAND, Ore. For years, Alzheimer's researchers have focused on two proteins that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's and may contribute to the disease: plaques made up of the protein amyloid-beta, and tangles of another protein, called tau.

But for the first time, an Alzheimer's researcher has looked closely at not the two proteins independently, but at the interaction of the two proteins with each other in the brain tissue of post-mortem Alzheimer's patients and in mouse brains with Alzheimer's disease. The research found that the interaction between the two proteins might be the key: as these interactions increased, the progression of Alzheimer's disease worsened.

The research, by Hemachandra Reddy, Ph.D., an associate scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, is detailed in the June 2013 edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Reddy's paper suggests that when the interaction between the phosphorylated tau and the amyloid-beta particularly in its toxic form happens at brain synapses, it can damage those synapses. And that can lead to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients.

"This complex formation between amyloid beta and tau it is actually blocking the neural communication," Reddy said. "If we could somehow find a molecule that could inhibit the binding of these two proteins at the synapses, that very well might be the cure to Alzheimer's disease."

To conduct the research, Reddy and his team studied three different kinds of mice, who had been bred to have some of the brain characteristics of Alzheimer's disease, including having amyloid-beta and phosphorylated tau in their brains. Reddy also analyzed postmortem brain tissue from people who had Alzheimer's disease.

Using multiple antibodies that recognize amyloid-beta and phosphorylated tau, Reddy and Maria Manczak, Ph.D., a research associate in Reddy's laborator
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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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