The mystery behind the nerve cell death in patients with Alzheimer's disease is about to be unraveled. A new protein is said to aid scientists in the understanding why these nerve cells die.
Studying Amyloid-beta or Abeta proteins had led to the conclusion that it does one thing. When these proteins are fused, amyloid fibrils are responsible for the clumps made between brain neurons. Once these clumps are accumulated, it causes the neurons to die which consequently leads to a significant decline in cognition of patients with Alzheimer's.
According to Eureka Alert, There is no known cause on why this specific protein when clumped together results in the death of brain cells. Also, scientists have difficulty checking the effects of having the glue-like mass of Abeta proteins in contrast with having individual proteins only.
To address this problem, the University of Sussex has paved way for the designer protein. This new protein looks a lot like the Abeta protein in both size and shape. The only difference would be is that it contains two different amino acids.
This specific characteristic in the designer protein would mean that the amyloid fibers will not be formed and that it would not consequently lead to the death of nerve cells.
Since this new protein will no longer be toxic to the brain cells, Abeta proteins are given much more emphasis in determining its role in the disease.
"Understanding how the brain protein Abeta causes nerve cell death in Alzheimer's patients is key if we are to find a cure for this disease. Our study clearly shows that the aggregation of Abeta into bigger species is critical in its ability to kill cells," Dr. Karen Marshall, one of the scientists who guided the study stated in Sussex.AC.UK, "Stopping the protein aggregating in people with Alzheimer's could slow down the progression symptoms of the disease. We hope to work towards finding a strategy to do this in the lab and reverse the damaging effects of toxic Abeta."
Currently, the scientists work with the Sussex Innovation Centre to create more commercial properties for the protein.