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Scientists ID possible biomarker to gauge Alzheimer's prognosis, effect of therapies
Date:3/17/2011

UCLA researchers have identified a new biomarker that could help them track how effectively the immune system is able to clear the brain of amyloid beta, which forms the plaques considered one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

The pilot study, currently published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, demonstrates how the immune gene MGAT3, which is essential in clearing amyloid beta, is expressed differently in different Alzheimer's patients. The finding may be useful in providing more highly individualized disease prognoses in the future.

It may also help researchers understand which patients will respond to therapy with vitamin D3 and curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric spice, both of which were shown in previous studies by this UCLA research team to help stimulate specific immune system cells to clear amyloid beta in a laboratory test.

Genes hold instructions to create proteins that determine all bodily processes, from moving blood through the veins to stimulating the immune system. The genome of each cell, which is made up of hereditary information, sends out messages to "turn on" various genes according to actual needs.

In earlier research, the UCLA team showed that Alzheimer's patients may have a defect in messaging from the MGAT3 gene, which could help explain why this population cannot effectively clear amyloid beta.

In the current study, researchers used a blood-based biomarker to identify three abnormal ways of processing MGAT3 gene information, which could lead to different disease prognoses.

"Alzheimer's disease robs a person of identity and is a huge burden for families, caregivers and society," said study author Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. "This is one of the first studies demonstrating the role of the immune system in helping track Alzheimer's diseas
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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