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Alzheimer's protein in healthy brains.

Two teams of scientists, working independently, have found that normal brain cells can make beta amyloid, a primary constituent of the plaques that pock the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

The findings support the theory that Alzheimer's disease arises as a result of an imbalance between two naturally occurring processes for breaking down amyloid precursor protein, the forerunner of beta amyloid (SN: 3/7/92, p.152). Many scientists believe this imbalance may sometimes result from a genetic mutation that affects one of the processes.

The two research teams -- led by Dennis J. Selkoe of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Steven G. Younkin of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland -- report their results in the Sept. 24 NATURE and the Oct. 2 SCIENCE, respectively. Both groups found beta amyloid secreted from healthy cells grown in laboratory culture. Selkoe's team also found beta amyloid in cerebrospinal fluid taken from both healthy individuals and Alzheimer's patients.

Selkoe's group suggests their finding may lead to a test for detecting elevated beta amyloid levels. However, in an editorial in the Sept. 24 NATURE, John Hardy and Mike Mullan of the University of South Florida in Tampa caution that "much more work is required before the relationships between [causative] factors for [Alzheimer's] disease and biochemical markers... are elucidated."
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Title Annotation:beta amyloid may result from genetic mutation
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 10, 1992
Previous Article:A method for earlier genetic testing.
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