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Alzheimer's plaque components fight inflammation

In mice, bits of proteins can treat condition resembling multiple sclerosis

Tiny components of amyloid plaques, the notorious protein clumps found littering the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, might fight inflammation. Researchers report that several of these sticky protein fragments, or peptides, glom onto inflammatory compounds and reverse paralysis in mice that have a condition similar to multiple sclerosis. A fragment of tau protein, which shows up in other brain deposits in Alzheimer’s patients, has a similar effect.

When tested on blood taken from three MS patients, the tau peptide weeded out some inflammatory culprits there, too, researchers report in the April 3 Science Translational Medicine.

“This is a seriously good study. It opens up more questions than it answers,” says Jian-Guo Geng, a cell biologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who wasn’t part of the research team. “But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to using these peptides for treatments.”

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