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Structure of Alzheimers protein cracked

Washington: Scientists have cracked the structure of a protein which is responsible for Alzheimer`s, a major breakthrough that they claim may pave the way for an effective treatment for the disease.

An international team, led Dr Jose Varghese of CSIRO in Australia, has uncovered the structure of the toxic protein in the brain, known as amyloid beta, that causes Alzheimer`s, the most common form of dementia.

Amyloid beta rapidly self-assembles in the brain and builds up to form plaques which are a hallmark of the disease.

It`s thought the accumulation of small amyloid beta aggregates and plaques in the brain disrupt connections in hippocampus — the area of the brain involved in memory, thus causing loss of neuron function and memory loss.

According to the scientists, there is no cure for Alzheimer`s disease, but determining the structure of amyloid beta protein is a vital step towards understanding why it aggregates and plaques occur.

"Before we can understand the processes involved in the deterioration of the brain, we must determine the molecular shape of the damaging protein," Director of CSIRO`s Preventative Health Flagship, Professor Richard Head said.

"Until now this has proved incredibly difficult because of the protein`s propensity to self assemble and clump together," he added.

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