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Blood-brain barrier is an Alzheimer's breakthrough

Blood-brain barrier is an Alzheimer's breakthrough
9th March 2012

A previously unknown brain mechanism has been mapped, with the potential to aid Alzheimer's treatments in the future.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have identified that the blood-brain barrier helps maintain levels of glutamate.

This compound is vital for signalling but too much can be toxic and create 'noise' in the brain.

However, previously, scientists believed that this balance was maintained by an interaction between cells in the brain.

"We now know that the blood-brain barrier also plays a vital role in the process by 'vacuuming' – so to speak – the brain fluid for extraneous glutamate, which is then pumped into the blood where it does not have a damaging effect," associate professor Birger Brodin.

This could have an "enormous" impact on the future of Alzheimer's drug development.

A recent report by Dr Ahmad Salehi has said that new strategies are needed for Alzheimer's and Down syndrome as both conditions are caused by an over-expression of proteins in the brain.

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