ScienceDaily — A molecule widely assailed as the chief culprit in Alzheimer's disease unexpectedly reverses paralysis and inflammation in several distinct animal models of a different disorder -- multiple sclerosis, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have found.
This surprising discovery, which will be reported in a study to be published online Aug. 1 as the cover feature in Science Translational Medicine, comes on the heels of the recent failure of a large-scale clinical trial aimed at slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease by attempting to clear the much-maligned molecule, known as A-beta, from Alzheimer's patients' bloodstreams. While the findings are not necessarily applicable to the study of A-beta's role in the pathology of that disease, they may point to promising new avenues of treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The short protein snippet, or peptide, called A-beta (or beta-amyloid) is quite possibly the single most despised substance in all of brain research. It comes mainly in two versions differing slightly in their length and biochemical properties. A-beta is the chief component of the amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and serve as an identifying hallmark of the neurodegenerative disorder.
A-beta deposits also build up during the normal aging process and after brain injury. Concentrations of the peptide, along with those of the precursor protein from which it is carved, are found in multiple-sclerosis lesions as well, said Lawrence Steinman, MD, the new study's senior author. In a lab dish, A-beta is injurious to many types of cells. And when it is administered directly to the brain, A-beta is highly inflammatory.... Keep on reading...