Friday, August 11, 2006

Two Proteins Key in Slowing Alzheimer's Amyloids

An interesting bit on Yahoo News concerns research that has shown that two particular proteins, HSF-1 and DAF-16, act as cellular janitors, cleaning up the sticky amyloids that would otherwise hinder brain function. The proteins are found on a gene pathway called insulin/IGF-1, which is a key gene in the aging process. As the body ages, the efficiency of HSF-1 and DAF-16 decrease, allowing the amyloids to build up and leading to the symptoms typical of Alzheimer's patients. The theory is that boosting the function of HSF-1 and DAF-16 can slow or prevent the buildup of amyloids.

As part of the research, the scientists discovered that the "clumping" of amyloids typical of advanced stage Alzheimer's patients is actually a defense mechanism carried out by the DAF-16 protein, which clumps the substance together in a way to make them less toxic to the brain.

Humans have the same insulin/IGF-1 gene pathway, so there is hope that this research, which was carried out in roundworms, will translate into the human population as well.

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