Unfortunately it is still unclear precisely which ageing process forms the basis of this spectacular rise in the occurrence of the disease. VIB scientists affiliated to K.U.Leuven have discovered an important molecular link between Alzheimer’s disease and the development of the typical plaques in the brains of Alzheimer patients. This discovery is an important breakthrough in the fundamental research into the cause of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer’s disease: a growing problem
Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that slowly and gradually destroys brain cells, is the most common form of dementia in the Western world. The way in which it affects the memory and mental functioning makes it one of the most frightening disorders. Over the last 15 years the amount of research worldwide into this still incurable disease has grown considerably: faster diagnosis of the disease and better treatment are essential!
Amyloid plaques and Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with amyloid plaques – i.e. abnormal accumulations of protein fragments – that form in the brain cells. A few years ago Bart De Strooper and other researchers unravelled the process by which these plaques develop in the familial form of Alzheimer’s disease (less common form). ß-secretase, which cuts proteins at a specific location – plays an important role here. Sometimes the secretase cuts in the wrong place, which results in a by-product and thus the formation of plaques. In the most common form of the disorder the same sort of plaques are found, but there is still little known about their development mechanism.
BACE1 or ß-secretase
In patients with the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease the brain cells show an increase in the protein BACE1 or ß-secretase. VIB researcher Sébastien Hébert and colleagues, under the direction of Bart De Strooper and in collaboration with international experts, looked into the cause of this increase.
To this end the VIB researchers checked the expression profiles of certain microRNA’s, i.e. the short pieces of RNA that regulate protein production. In patients where there was an increase in the BACE1 protein, there was a significant reduction in miR-29a and miR-29b-1. This observation suggests the possible role of certain miRNA’s in the increase of BACE1 and in the formation of plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
On the one hand this research raises hopes for a better diagnostic test. Timely prescription of certain medicines for Alzheimer’s disease results after all in a better response, and thus a better quality of life for the patient. On the other hand there is the question of whether these microRNA’s could in the future form the basis of a new drug.
Evy Vierstraete | alfa
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences