Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have defined a key step in the production of beta-amyloid, a short protein that is thought to be responsible for the development of Alzheimers disease. Understanding this step may aid in the discovery of drugs that could help block the disease from developing.
In Alzheimers disease, too much beta-amyloid is produced by an enzyme that has many other essential roles. As a result, simply blocking the whole enzyme knocks out many of its other functions - which is fatal to the organism.
Using cultured human and mouse cells, as well as test-tube assays, UT Southwestern researchers singled out how just one portion of the enzyme, a protein called nicastrin, is involved in the pathway that produces beta-amyloid, thereby leading to Alzheimers disease. They hope next to work on ways to specifically block nicastrin. The study appears in the August 12 issue of the journal Cell.
Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
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