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article imageAlzheimer's disease protein varies between patients

By Tim Sandle     Sep 30, 2013 in Science
Alzheimer’s disease proteins may contort differently in every patient, according to new research. This means that universal treatments may not be the answer.
With Alzheimer’s disease a protein called amyloid-beta forms fibers that congregate into plaques. This protein is thought to be the basis of the condition. The neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease starts years before symptoms of dementia appear. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that causes gradual deterioration of the memory and thinking process and, eventually, death.
A new study suggests that each person may have a distinct version of the fibers, and that this affects how the disease develops. This was shown from a small study where the A-beta protein was removed from the brain tissue of two women who had died from Alzheimer’s disease. The women had different symptoms and the disease affected different parts of their brains and the protein took only a very different shape in each of the women.
What the researchers found was that one woman’s fibers were long, thin and straight, while the other woman's fibers were thicker and contained periodic twists.
The research was undertaken by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the findings have been published in the journal Cell.
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