Leuven, Belgium – This week scientists of the FlandersInteruniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) will once againpublish a breakthrough in their research regarding Alzheimer's disease.The researchers, this time connected to the Catholic University ofLeuven, discovered the function of one of the most important proteinsrelated to Alzheimer's disease. They have indicated that the proteinstimulates the growth of nerve paths in the brain, which is essentialfor recovery after brain damage. The results are published in theauthoritative journal EMBO Journal.
The normal function of theamyloidal precursor protein or APP clarified It has been known forseveral years that APP is relevant in Alzheimer's disease. APP is theprecursor of the amyloidal-â protein that causes the typical 'plaques'in the brains of patients. The normal function of APP was, however, notknown. Maarten Leyssen and his colleagues have indicated that APPstimulates the development of nerve paths. Intact nerve paths areessential for the proper functioning of the brain. These connectionscan be damaged after traumatic brain damage resulting in the improperfunctioning of the brain. APP is responsible for stimulating thedevelopment of new nerve paths.
APP and Alzheimer's disease
Theseresults also aid better understanding of certain aspects of Alzheimer'sdisease, where APP plays a major role. The fruit fly – an ideal modelto study the brain's action – indicates that APP increases considerablyafter brain damage, namely in areas where new nerve paths need to beformed. Because more APP is made, more plaques can develop in thebrain, a typical symptom of Alzheimer's disease. For the first time theresults of VIB researchers explain the strong link between brain damageand Alzheimer's disease: not only do patients with major brain damagehave more chance of developing Alzheimer's disease later on in life,their brains also often show plaques that strongly resemble those ofAlzheimer patients.
The above story is based on materials provided by VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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