Study finds how toxic proteins accumulate in Alzheimer's disease

JERUSALEM, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Israeli, Dutch, and Scottish researchers found how toxic proteins, which are involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease, accumulate in the brain, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said in a statement published on Tuesday.

In a study led by the Technion and published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers focused on the more common type of the disease, Sporadic Alzheimer's, which is not caused by genetic mutations as in the rare Familial Alzheimer's.

Unlike Familial Alzheimer's, where the mechanism of accumulation is clear due to an obvious link between mutations and proteins, in sporadic Alzheimer's the trigger for protein accumulation has been unknown so far.

The current study found that the protein accumulation in Sporadic Alzheimer's is due to a disruption in the protein clearance mechanism, also known as the ubiquitin-proteasome system.

Using a 3D human neural cell culture model, the team found that damage to the ubiquitin system leads to the accumulation of toxic proteins even in healthy tissue, mimicking the typical Alzheimer's pathology.

The researchers then engineered an RNA molecule tailored to selectively silence one of the elements within the defective ubiquitin system, resulting in the improvement of the pathology in their experimental model.

They suggested that this RNA molecule, which targets the component that they have identified, could serve as a prototype for the development of effective treatments for Sporadic Alzheimer's.

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