Alzheimer's protein 'kills nerve cells'

Posted on 28 September 2011

A protein linked to Alzheimer's disease kills nerve cells in the nose, explaining why people with the neurodegenerative condition often lose their sense of smell.

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that the amyloid precursor protein (APP) may be to blame for the death of nerve cells.

Alzheimer's plaques are primarily derived from this protein, but the new research suggests the protein alone, even unaccompanied by the plaques, may be to blame for the loss of the sense of smell in people with the condition.

Study leader Leonardo Belluscio commented: "Reducing APP production suppressed the widespread loss of nerve cells, suggesting that such disease-related death of nerve cells could potentially be stopped."

Deficits in odour detection are among the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, with the loss of smell being a warning sign to doctors.

In other news, researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University have uncovered potential new targets for an Alzheimer's vaccine.

Posted by Toby Mynott

 

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