While too much amyloid beta protein in the brain is linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, not enough of the protein in healthy brains can cause learning problems and forgetfulness, Saint Louis University scientists have found.
The finding could lead to better medications to treat Alzheimer's disease, said John Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatrics at Saint Louis University and the lead researcher on the study.
"This research is very exciting because it causes us to look at amyloid beta protein in a different way," Morley said.
"After 20 years of research, what we found goes totally against long-standing beliefs about amyloid beta protein. Our results indicate that amyloid beta protein itself isn't the bad guy. The right amount of amyloid beta protein happens to be very important for memory and learning in those who are healthy."
Researchers found that young, healthy mice that received low doses of amyloid beta protein showed improvement in recognizing objects and successfully navigating through a maze. Conversely, mice that received a drug that blocked amyloid beta protein had learning impairment.
"You can't totally wipe out amyloid beta protein. If you do this, you are going to create dementia," Morley said. "In treating Alzheimer's disease, we have to be careful not to lower amyloid beta too much because it will cause as many problems as if you had an excess of amyloid beta protein."
In short, Alzheimer's disease is connected to too much of a good thing. The right amount of amyloid beta in healthy brains actually enhances learning and memory rather than impairs it.
"Excess production of amyloid beta results in memory deficits," Morley said. "Overall, we believe these studies strongly suggest that the physiological role of amyloid beta is to enhance learning and memory.
These findings are important in understanding the optimal design of drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease."
The research, conducted in an animal model, is published in electronic edition of the Sept. 11 edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in several key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.
Nancy Solomon | EurekAlert!
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy