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Gene clue to Alzheimer's protein build-up

Wednesday February 12th, 2020

Scientists have made new discoveries about the build-up of proteins in the brain during Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Isabel Castanho of the University of Exeter, UK, and her team carried out tests on mice to view how the build up of amyloid and tau proteins affects gene activity.

They found a “dramatic change” in the activity of genes involved in inflammation as the proteins accumulated. Full details appeared in a paper published yesterday (11 February) in Cell Reports.

The subsequent inflammation became more active as protein levels rose, especially tau - adding weight to theory that brain inflammation is key to the build-up of these proteins.

"Our results suggest that the genes which are disrupted through the build-up of tau and amyloid in the entorhinal cortex region of the brain influence the function of the immune response in the brain, which is known to be a key component of Alzheimer's disease,” said Dr Castanho.

Co-author Professor Jonathan Mill added: "Currently, no treatments are available that can change the course of Alzheimer's disease. Understanding the interaction between genes and progression of the disease will help us identify new targets for treatment, which we hope will one day lead to drugs that can effectively treat this terrible disease."

Alzheimer's Research UK partially funded the work. Dr Sara Imarisio of the charity said: "Genetics plays an important role in the development diseases like Alzheimer's and teasing apart the processes contributing to disease is crucial in the hunt for new breakthroughs, which will change lives. Future research capitalising on genetic findings like this is a top priority for dementia researchers around the world.”

Castanho, I. et al. Transcriptional signatures of tau and amyloid neuropathology. Cell Reports 11 February 2020 doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.063

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(20)30088-7

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Genetics | UK News

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