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Toxic beta-amyloid pulls the trigger to cause Alzheimer's


A highly toxic beta-amyloid has been found to significantly increase the toxicity of other more common and less toxic beta-amyloids providing a trigger for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This form of beta-amyloid, called pyroglutamylated (or pyroglu) beta-amyloid, is a real bad guy in Alzheimer’s disease,” stated principal investigator George Bloom, a UVa professor of biology and cell biology in the College of Arts & Sciences and School of Medicine. “We’ve confirmed that it converts more abundant beta-amyloids into a form that is up to 100 times more toxic, making this a very dangerous killer of brain cells and an attractive target for drug therapy.”

The toxic protein will spread through the brain attacking and turning healthy proteins ultimately destroying the brain.

“You might think of this pyroglu beta-amyloid as a seed that can further contaminate something that’s already bad into something much wore – it’s the trigger,” Bloom expounded.

The trigger fires a bullet called tau that is stimulated by beta-amyloid to form toxic tangles in the brain that play a major part in the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“There are two matters of practical importance to our discovery. One, is the new insights we have as to how Alzheimer’s might actually progress – the mechanisms which are important to understand if we are to try to prevent it from happening, and second, it provides a lead into how to design drugs that might prevent this kind of beta-0amyloid from building up in the first place.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Nature

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