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Research advances understanding of nerve cell death in Alzheimer’s

Published 28 September 2011

Scientists have moved forward in their understanding of how nerve cells are killed during Alzheimer’s disease, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience (Wednesday 28 September).

Researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Maryland, found that mice with a high level of the mutated version of the human protein, amyloid precursor protein (APP), in olfactory nerve cells had four times as much olfactory nerve cell death in three weeks as normal mice. APP are responsible for amyloid plaques - a hallmark of Alzheimer's. However, the cell death in this experiment was found to occur in the absence of plaques suggesting it could be the mutated APP itself, rather than the amyloid plaques that was the cause.

Alzheimer's Society comment

'Finding ways of identifying Alzheimer's earlier is a very important part of dementia research and as a result, this study certainly is not to be sniffed at. While we can't relate these findings directly to humans, this model adds to our understanding of how Alzheimer's develops and provides an important avenue of investigation for drug development in the future.

There are 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK yet dementia research is drastically underfunded. We must invest now to help people live well with the condition today and to ultimately find a cure.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society