Prions Complicit In Alzheimer’s Disease

Amyloid plaques in Alz-
heimer’s brain tissue

This may be a blockbuster finding:

Prion protein, notorious for causing the brain-wasting mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases, may also be a coconspirator in Alzheimer’s disease, a new study in mice suggests.

In mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases, misshapen prion proteins do the damage. But the new paper, appearing February 26 in Nature, offers evidence that the harmless version of the prion protein assists the amyloid-beta protein responsible for brain cell death in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The prion protein — a role for which in the brain has been a headscratcher for neuroscientists — acts as the middleman in amyloid-beta binding to the cell membrane. This may hint at a new therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s prevention.

‘Get rid of the prion protein middleman, or its ability to bind A-beta oligomers, and get rid of the disease. “In many ways it may be better than addressing A-beta levels,” which are difficult to reduce completely, [one of the investigators] says.’ via Science News.