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Brain drain could help those with Alzheimer's

13th August 2007

The toxic protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients can simply be drained away, according to a paper published yesterday.

A team from the University of Rochester Medical Center has found a way to reduce the levels of amyloid-beta in the brain. Amyloid-beta is the protein which accumulates to form a toxic plaque.

The method works indirectly by taking advantage of the "dynamic equilibrium" between the proportions of amyloid-beta in the blood and in the brain.

Higher levels of a protein which neutralizes amyloids in the body were found in healthy people compared to those with Alzheimer's.

Lead researcher Berislav Zlokovic said: "We aren't really talking about massive amounts of amyloid-beta.

"Even a small malfunction in the elaborate system that carries it into or out of the brain could lead, over years, to accumulate in amounts that damage the brain."

The study will appear in next month's issue of Nature Medicine.