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Alzheimer's Research May Lead to Preventing the Debilitating Disease
Date:12/3/2009

NEW YORK, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the most heartbreaking diagnoses a person can receive. This irreversible, progressive brain disease slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. The most common cause of dementia among older people, AD affects as many as 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Aging.

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Jin Ryoun Kim, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has been leading a team of researchers including Paramjit Arora, associate professor in NYU's Department of Chemistry; Mary Cowman, professor in NYU-Poly's Department of Chemical and Biological Science, and Jorge Ghiso, NYU School of Medicine associate professor, to make this debilitating disease a thing of the past.

Kim is interested in developing a biochemical probe that would quickly and quantitatively reveal toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's. Developing an early, reliable diagnostic tool will enable researchers to develop drug-like compounds to prevent the disease.

What triggers Alzheimer's, Kim explains, is protein aggregation, in which a protein molecule sticks to neighboring identical molecules, ending up as a toxic form that interferes with normal brain functioning. While all humans have these protein molecules, young people's bodies are able to prevent accumulation of toxic forms of the protein. But as people age, they become more vulnerable to their effects.

Toxic molecules generated during the aggregation process have been directly linked to the onset of Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, the toxic molecule is difficult to detect: It's very unstable, and can change shape, structu
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SOURCE Polytechnic Institute of New York University
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