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BrightFocus-Funded Researcher Looks to Embryology to Understand Why Neurons Fail In Alzheimer’s Disease

August 22, 2013

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the junctions between neurons break down. These junctions, or synapses, are important for how neural signals are routed through the brain and other areas of the nervous system. They are also important for the ability of the brain to communicate instructions to other areas of the body, like muscles.

In this BrightFocus-supported study, Joachim Herz, M.D. and his colleagues turned back time on Alzheimer’s disease by asking not how synapses break down, but how they are created in healthy bodies. In doing so, they illuminated previously unknown roles for two proteins that are major players in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.The authors suggest that just as a mechanic might use a wrench to build a car, the same wrench would be well-suited for maintaining that car. Perhaps, they reason, the body uses these proteins both to build and maintain the synapses.

The researchers will now need to test this hypothesis and confirm whether synapse failures in Alzheimer’s disease might be reversible. To do so they will aid the body in its ability to maintain those synapses by pharmaceutically manipulating the processes that were involved in building that neuron in the first place.

Read more about the current and previous BrightFocus grant awards to Dr. Herz:

View the original journal article:

View all news updates for Alzheimer's disease

Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

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