Protein could hold clues to Alzheimer's causes

Posted on 29 March 2011

Scientists in the UK have taken a major step towards understanding the underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease, which may be good news for people considering ways to pay for care.

Findings unveiled at the Alzheimer's Society research roadshow last week suggest the protein tau plays an important role in the disease.

Dr Amritpal Mudher of Southampton University said healthy nerve cells produce tau, but in Alzheimer's disease the protein does not function correctly and can tangle nerve cells, causing them to die.

"It is particularly interesting to see this additional activity of abnormal tau as it helps to explain the effect tau has on nerve cells and why the cells die," said Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society.

"The more we understand about how tau works the closer we get to a potential treatment."

It follows news that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued new guidance on four drugs for Alzheimer's disease that will make them available for everybody.

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