A new study in mice identifies one of the missing steps in how Alzheimer's develops and suggests a possible new treatment strategy, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College and their colleagues. The results of the study are to be published in the April 16 issue of Science.
The researchers, led by Shi Du Yan, M.D., associate professor of clinical pathology and member of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain; Joyce W. Lustbader, Ph.D., senior research scientist in obstetrics and gynecology; and Hao Wu, Ph.D., at Weill Cornell, created a crystal form of two molecular components of the disease.
"The crystal complex is the first demonstration that beta-amyloid peptide binds to a protein called ABAD and accumulates inside the mitochondria in brain cells," Lustbader said. Many researchers believe that Alzheimer's occurs when beta-amyloid clusters in and ultimately kills brain cells by causing the production of destructive free radicals in the mitochondria.
"Our findings suggest that one way to treat Alzheimer's would be to develop a drug that prevents the beta-amyloid peptides from binding with ABAD, which might prevent the cascade of damage that Alzheimer's typically leads to," Yan said.
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