Differences in Alzheimer’s protein could predict how fast symptoms progress

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By Philip Tubby | Monday 08 January 2018

Scientists in the US have developed a new method to tease apart differences in the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid. By using these methods, the researchers have shed new light on amyloid’s structure and studied how the protein spreads through the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. The study, released today is published in the scientific journal PNAS.

Dr Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Stopping or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is critical and key to doing this is understanding how different forms of toxic proteins spread through the brain. The build-up of amyloid is one of the first changes in Alzheimer’s, but why it happens and how it spreads is still not fully understood.

“The important tools developed in this study provide insight into different forms of amyloid in the brain, suggesting they could explain differences in symptoms between people with Alzheimer’s. The work suggests that amyloid spreads through the brain in a similar way to the prion protein responsible the brain disease CJD; but more work is needed to confirm this. Although initial results in mice provide useful insights into the mechanisms of disease, they must be followed up with studies in people.

“Improving our ability to track different forms of amyloid will provide a greater understanding of Alzheimer’s and with more development, could help to predict how a person’s Alzheimer’s may progress in future.”


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Philip Tubby