Start getting comfortable with the word “beta-amyloid.” It’s a short protein fragment which in recent years has been the subject of tons of research, and there’s increasing evidence that it may be a key link in the chain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Using a transgenic mouse model, researchers from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute in Australia have uncovered compelling evidence that beta-amyloid proteins produced elsewhere in the body are smuggled into the brain via this lipid transport system.
“Our research shows that these toxic protein deposits that form in the brains of people living with Alzheimer’s disease most likely leak into the brain from fat-carrying particles in blood, called lipoproteins,” says lead investigator and physiologist John Mamo.
“This ‘blood-to-brain pathway’ is significant because if we can manage the levels in blood of lipoprotein-amyloid and prevent their leakage into the brain, this opens up potential new treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and slow memory loss.”
A lot of the research now is determining whether the beta-amyloid is the cause or the consequence: does its presence cause Alzhiemer’s or is it a by-product of the disease? Those studies will continue, but it’s an interesting little molecule, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it in the coming decades regardless.
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