Cutting off a brain enzyme reversed Alzheimer’s plaques in mice | Science News

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Cutting off a brain enzyme reversed Alzheimer’s plaques in mice

Nerve cell‒damaging clumps vanished, but enzyme may be key for other brain functions

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1:12pm, February 14, 2018
Alzheimer's protein

VANISHING ACT  Globs of a protein linked to Alzheimer’s (red) dot a brain sample from a 10-month-old mouse (left). But these disease hallmarks largely vanish in a similar mouse that mostly lacks a particular brain enzyme.

Knocking back an enzyme swept mouse brains clean of protein globs that are a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing the enzyme is known to keep these nerve-damaging plaques from forming. But the disappearance of existing plaques was unexpected, researchers report online February 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The brains of mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease were riddled with these plaques, clumps of amyloid-beta protein fragments, by the time the animals were 10 months old. But the brains of 10-month-old Alzheimer’s mice that had a severely reduced amount of an enzyme called BACE1 were essentially clear of new and old plaques.

Studies rarely demonstrate the removal of existing plaques, says neuroscientist John Cirrito of Washington University in St. Louis who was not involved in the study. “It suggests there is something special about BACE1,&rdquo

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