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UCLA discovery may suggest why Alzheimer's medications rarely help.

* UCLA discovery may suggest why Alzheimer's medications rarely help. According to a recent study, it's because they are targeting the wrong culprit. That is, the increasingly well known "amyloid plaques" that have been associated with Alzheimer's may not, strictly speaking, be its cause. The study, lead-authored by Zhefeng Gou, PhD, was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Current Alzheimer's drugs aim to reduce amyloid plaques, sticky deposits that build up in the brain and are a visual trademark of the disease. The plaques are made of long fibers of a protein called Amyloid [beta] or A[beta]. Recent studies, however, suggest that the agent of Alzheimer's may be small A[beta] clumps called oligomers that appear in the brain years before plaques develop.

In unraveling oligomers' molecular structure, Guo and colleagues discovered that A[beta] has a vastly different organization in oligomers than in amyloid plaques. The study suggests that recent experimental Alzheimer's drugs have failed in clinical trials because they zero in on plaques and do not work on oligomers. The researchers suggest that future studies on oligomers could help speed the development of new drugs specifically aiming at them. The great battle against Alzheimer's continues.

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Title Annotation:Alzheimer's disease; University of California, Los Angeles
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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