New study shows potential link between brain metals and Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Keele have published a new study, which helps us understand the role of metals like iron in the brain. Head of Research at Alzheimer's Society, Dr James Pickett, comments.

The new research from the University of Warwick found that:

  • Brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease have chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide which the researchers believe could be produced during the formation of amyloid protein plaques
  • Understanding the impact and management of these metals could lead to more effective future therapies for Alzheimer’s.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, says:

'Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer, but we still don’t know how to stop, prevent or even slow it down. This study wasn’t about how much iron people ate in their diet, but more about the tiny levels which are found in the brain.

'Iron is essential for the health of our cells and nerves in the brain, but some forms of iron have been associated with amyloid clumps, a key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

'The new technology used in this study allows us to examine these amyloid clumps more closely and study the underlying changes that happen in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease in minute detail. This might help us to be more targeted in developing new drugs that tackle iron levels in the brain.

'There are trials taking place at the moment to see whether preventing interactions between iron and amyloid in the brain might reduce the build up of these toxic clumps and alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but we’ll need to wait a few years for these results.'

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