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Hope for new Alzheimer's drugs

Friday April 24th, 2015

British researchers have offered hope of a new range of drugs for Alzheimer's disease by unravelling some of the disease's secrets.

The work at Cambridge University was based on studies of human stem cells.

The researchers say this has revealed mechanisms of the disease that could not be discovered through the use of laboratory mice.

The findings show the process by which the toxic amyloid-beta protein fragments are created through the breakdown of the amyloid precursor protein.

These show it affects the behaviour of another key Alzheimer's disease protein, the tau protein, the researchers say.

During the study, the researchers were able to increase and decrease the rate of break-down of APP - and this led to changes in levels of the tau protein.

The research at first involved genetic Alzheimer's disease - but the researchers found the same effect in healthy neurons, they report in Cell Reports.

Researcher Dr Rick Livesey of the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, said: "The question is why hasn't this pathway been identified, given that Alzheimer's is so well-studied?

"The answer is that mice don't develop Alzheimer's disease, and they don't respond to these drugs the way human neurons do. It's something we can only do by looking at real human neurons."

Cell Reports 23 April 2015

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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