Thursday, June 7, 2012

Interesting Science

It frequently amazes me what interesting findings scientists announce.  This week is no exception.

Alzheimer's Protein Structure Suggests New Treatment Directions
One of the proteins involved in Alzheimer's actually binds to cholesterol.  This may explain the previously noted correlation between high cholesterol and a risk for Alzheimer's.   This finding suggests that a drug which could cross the blood brain barrier and block the protein from binding to cholesterol may aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

How the World's First Drug for Amyloid Disease Works
Amyloids are insoluble fibrous protein clumps which are the result of proteins which do not fold properly.  Alzheimer's is an amyloid disease because it involves clumps of the Beta Amyloid protein.  A drug has been found that prevents the clumps from forming which slows the progression of an amyloid disease.  While it is not treating Alzheimer's, it may prove to be a model for developing other treatments for the various amyloid diseases.

Two Radioactive Tracers Detect Amyloid, May Aid in AD Diagnosis
Two molecular imaging agents are able to detect Beta Amyloid clumps, making them visible to PET scans of living patients.  This finding is particularly interesting because Alzheimer's is not official until an autopsy is performed and the clumps are found in the deceased's brain.  If a scan could be done on a living patient which identified these hallmarks of Alzheimer's, doctors wouldn't have to guess as much as they sometimes do when dealing with dementia patients.

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