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Scientists have studied for years how toxic molecules buildup in the brain can cause or contribute Alzheimer's disease. It has been much more difficult to determine what triggers the accumulation of these molecules in the brain.
According to a study in mice published in PLOS Biology last week, researchers at Curtin University believe that beta-amyloid, a toxic substance, may be the cause of the problem. Although it is not clear if the same thing happens in humans, scientists could use this discovery to help develop new treatments and track the onset Alzheimer's disease.
Although we knew from the beginning that Alzheimer's patients were characterized by the accumulation of toxic protein proteins in their brains called beta-amyloid (the hallmark feature), researchers didn't know how or where it came from. John Mamo, Curtin researcher and lead author of the study, stated in a press release.
The team discovered that beta-amyloid is a compound that builds up over time in Alzheimer's patients. It then travels throughout the bloodstream via lipoproteins.
The scientists found that lipoproteins can leak, which allows toxic compounds to reach brains and accumulate. Higher levels of amyloid in mice also led to more inflammation in their brains, suggesting a link between the compound's production and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
This blood-to brain pathway is important because if we manage the levels of lipoprotein-amyloid in the blood and prevent them from leaking into the brain, it opens up new possibilities for treating Alzheimer's disease and slowing down memory loss.
Before anyone could talk about new Alzheimer's treatments, it would be necessary to confirm that this link exists in humans. Mamo however suggests that certain drugs or diet changes could decrease the amyloid levels in the bloodstream. This would be significant news in the fight against this terrible disease.
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