Tallinn University cooperates in Alzheimer's breakthrough (1)

PET scans showing the differences between a normal brain and the brain afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. (Wikimedia Commons)
2/19/2015 1:24 PM
Category: Sci-Tech

A team of researchers from Karolinska Institute and the universities of Cambridge, Lund and Tallinn have discovered a method which could potentially lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer’s develops when proteins in the brain malfunction and stick together into plaques, eventually forming clusters or clumps that are toxic to nerve cells. The researchers, led by Prof. Jan Johansson from Tallinn University's Department of Natural Sciences and Dr Jenny Presto from the Karolinska Institute, have now found that proteins containing a so-called Brichos domain are able to prevent other proteins from sticking together and forming such toxic clumps.

“While most current research attempts to break up these clumps or reduce their impact on brain cells, this new discovery identifies a molecule that reduces the rapid accumulation of the toxic clumps," Dr Ian Le Guillou, research officer at Alzheimer’s Society, told the Telegraph, which reported on the find on Monday.

The tests conducted on mice by the Karolinska/Tallinn group, in collaboration with scientists from Lund and Cambridge, showed that Brichos completely prevented the degradation of oscillations in the brain, which are important for memory and learning.

With further investigation, the discovery could yield a method for treating Alzheimer's at a crucial stage of its development, the researchers say. The disease currently has no cure, only symptomatic therapies are being used.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

M. Oll

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