Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Two on the Alzheimer's Plaque Protein - II Seeking the Source

Finding out more about the origins of amyloid, the protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers

03 October 2021

Seeking the Source

One of the key biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of clumps of amyloid molecules in the brain, known as plaques. For many years, researchers have focused on figuring out why amyloid plaques form and how to get rid of them, yet these efforts haven’t led to effective treatments for what is currently an incurable condition. One issue is that amyloid is not only made in the brain but elsewhere in the body too, so it has been hard to figure out where it’s coming from. Researchers have recently managed to disentangle the two sources by using genetically engineered mice that make mouse amyloid in the brain and human amyloid in the liver. The human liver amyloid could still get into the brain (highlighted in red in these brains scans), triggering changes typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease and challenging our understanding of how the disease starts and progresses.

Written by Kat Arney

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