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Medicine Science

Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered 154

Posted by timothy
from the when-it's-all-greek-to-you dept.
smitty777 writes "Two separate studies by the Taub Institute and Harvard have discovered the pathway used by Alzheimer's Disease to spread through the brain. The studies indicate it's not a virus, but a distorted protein called Tau which moves from cell to cell. Further, the discovery 'may now offer scientists a way to move forward and develop a way to block tau's spread in Alzheimer's patients, said Karen Duff, a researcher at Columbia's Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's disease and co-author of one study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One. "It's enlightening for us because it now provides a whole other area for potential therapeutic impact," said Duff. "It's possible that you can identify the disease and intervene (with potential tau-blocking drugs) before the dementia actually sets in."'"
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Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered

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  • Awesome (Score:5, Informative)

    by chinton (151403) <[chinton001-slashdot] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:58AM (#38915683) Journal
    After watching my dad ravaged body (by bone cancer) and mind (by Alzheimer's), anything that may some day lead to prevention is great news.
  • Re:Does this mean? (Score:5, Informative)

    by meglon (1001833) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:06PM (#38915791)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002355/ [nih.gov]

    For some fun and tasty reading.
  • Folding@Home (Score:5, Informative)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:13PM (#38915887) Journal

    I talked with the researchers involved with Folding@Home, and they told me that indeed, processing power is at least partly used to research Tau protein misfolding.

    So, if you want to do something good for your future (since there is a good chance you'll be hit by Alzheimer's if you live long enough), I suggest contributing your CPU and graphics cards cycles to Folding@Home.

  • PLoS One Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:19PM (#38916013)

    Below is a link for the PLoS One article...

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031302;jsessionid=4EA9D1FCBCCF4E5C7B1B9A5FE3266C3E

  • Re:Awesome (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:44PM (#38916357)

    Triple fuck growing up

  • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:05PM (#38917829) Homepage Journal

    We've known about tau protein's involvement in Alzheimers for decades. Specifically, we've known that the protein forms tangles which crush brain cells. That part is beyond old news. What seems to happen is that the tau protein "unzips" from its proper location, resulting in brain cells registering that there is insufficient tau protein in locations where it should be, in turn resulting in a loop that will kill everything in the area.

    What is NOT known is why it unzips. My father's work in the late 80s, early 90s, showed that aluminum toxicity can cause the unzipping process. Later studies have shown that this is not the only pathway, but that there is usually something encased in the tau protein.

    This has led to me speculating that this may have once been a feature, not a bug, that in early life this might have been an environmental detox mechanism (bind toxic chemicals in the area up in protein which is then ejected). This is based on the fact that the brain is unique amongst cells utilizing tau protein in that it has nowhere to eject bound-up toxins and that you don't see these kinds of tangles forming in other contexts where tau protein exists. It would also explain why Alzheimer's looks like it could be virally caused as it would end up with the same look and feel at the neurological level. On the one hand, I've read the papers, I've been involved in the research, I understand the science extremely well. On the other hand, neuroscience is a jealous discipline - even biochemists have a very tough time getting a hearing and I've far less standing than that in the biological sciences - and thus I do not expect this speculation to get looked at. (And, no, this speculation isn't Wikipedia-based. The original thoughts were written up when Gopher was the protocol of choice and really is based on hard, raw data collected in the field. I was, after all, involved in collecting it.) Nonetheless, this finding convinces me that I will prove to have been far closer to the actual mechanism than most of the recognized theories to date. (Yes I'm an old, arrogant, snobbish fart. Now fetch me a lawn so you can gerroff it!)

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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