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A new mechanism of toxicity in Alzheimer's disease revealed by the 3-D structure of protein

The brains of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD) are slowly and inescapably being depleted of neurons, which leads to the characteristic loss of memory and cognitive function associated with this condition. However, the cause of neuronal death is still unknown. The treatments available are aimed at slowing down the development of dementia and only help to improve the quality of life for short periods. Therefore, treatments to cure AD are an unmet medical need. Researchers led by Natalia Carulla, IRB Barcelona Alumni, former group leader at the Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologie (IECB) in Bordeaux, and currently a project manager at Grup CIEF have revealed for the first time the atomic structure of amyloid-beta (Aβ) protein assemblies. The knowledge of this structure reveals a new mechanism of toxicity for these assemblies, with the capacity to disrupt the neuronal membrane, allowing water and ions to pass through it and causing the death of these cells. Several studies have proposed that the interaction of the Aβ protein with the neuronal membrane is responsible for the neuronal death observed in AD. However, the Aβ protein is a difficult therapeutic target because it is "sticky" and self-assembles, adopting distinct shapes and sizes. Read more...

 

 

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