Artificial amyloid experiment gives insight into Alzheimer’s, other diseases
J. Schymkowitz, Rodrigo Gallardo. F. Rousseau
Joining a gang doesn’t necessarily make a protein a killer, a new study suggests. This clumping gets dangerous only under certain circumstances.
A normally innocuous protein can be engineered to clump into fibers similar to those formed by proteins involved in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and brain-wasting prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, researchers report in the Nov. 11 Science. Cells that rely on the protein’s normal function for survival die when the proteins glom together. But cells that don’t need the protein are unharmed by the gang activity, the researchers discovered. The finding may shed light on why clumping proteins that lead to degenerative brain diseases kill some cells, but leave others untouched.
Clumpy proteins known as prions or amyloids have been implicated in many nerve-cell-killing diseases (