Alzheimer’s disease: New theory on how it damages brain

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Study reveals early events in the disease, new targets for treatment

Studies have shown that the buildup in the brain of certain toxic proteins, called amyloids, leads to the emergence of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Research has traditionally focused on how to eliminate or lower the levels of these proteins in the brain as a potential treatment for the disease. But now researchers believe that the memory loss associated with the disease begins long before protein deposits collect in the brain, and that a new understanding of how the disease progresses may have an important impact on how Alzheimer’s is treated in the future. “Until now, we knew these proteins were toxic, but we had little understanding of how they formed toxic structures,” said David Teplow, senior author of the study. “Our new studies show that in the most damaging form of Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid protein sticks together in a very distinct way, producing structures that enhance toxicity.” The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.