A new protein has been identified at significantly higher levels in the brains of those who died of Alzheimer's than in the brains of those who didn't have Alzheimer's at the time of death. The protein, known as TDP-43, is not new to science, having already been linked to two other neurodegenerative diseases and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. TDP-43 is the mutated form of TAR DNA. Everyone has TAR DNA at some level. When functioning properly, the protein is a binding protein which attaches to DNA and RNA to provide instructions used in the creation of other proteins from genes. However, it is the mutated form which leads to the neurodegenerative diseases.
TDP-43 is already being researched in connection with ALS and FTD. ALS patients can develop FTD. Not all FTD patients have ALS. This recent research which provides substantial evidence that TDP-43 is also involved with Alzheimer's means that scientists have another possible course of study. Additionally, the research into curing or preventing any one of the three diseases may prove beneficial to the others.