Scientists develop a useful protein for Alzheimer's research
Reported in Scientific Reports, a study shows that a newly developed protein may extend the understanding of why neurons die in the brain of an Alzheimer's patient. The research, led by scientists at the University of Sussex, is an important improvement.
Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It generally starts slowly and gets worse over time, affecting their daily tasks.
Amyloid-beta (Abeta) proteins accumulate and form protein clumps between nerve cells in an Alzheimer's disease patient's brain. Scientists suspect that the protein clumps lead to the death of the neurons, which in turn impairs the patient's cognitive function. But the mechanism of this process is not fully understood. The exact effect of the protein clumps remains to be answered.
The newly developed protein and the Abeta protein are similar in size and shape. But the new protein has two different amino acids, and doesn't form clumps or have toxicity. This protein would be used to investigate what role Abeta plays in the neurodegenerative disorder. According to the lead researcher Karen Marshall, such studies are important for the development of future treatment.
The study provided evidence that the formation of the Abeta clumps plays a key role in killing neurons. Preventing Abeta from accumulating might be a potent way to inhibit the progress of Alzheimer's disease. A major author of the study, Louise Serpell, noted that the new protein is a useful tool in Alzheimer's research.