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Brain "rust" could cause Alzheimer’s

9th September 2010

"Rusting" of the brain could be behind the development of Alzheimer‘s disease, scientists have suggested.

Researchers in Australia have found that an imbalance of metals needed for healthy brain function is at the root of the condition, the AAP reported.

University of Melbourne professor of pathology Ashley Bush and his colleagues traced the imbalance to the brain’s improper processing of zinc and iron.

"This really unravels quite a big series of knots and highlights a particular sequence involving these two metals," he told the news provider.

The research found that zinc blocks a protein from exporting iron out of the brain and so the metal elements build up, killing off neurons.

"That's the kind of chemistry that is going on in the brain and, similar to actual rust, it involves an abnormal combustion of oxygen with iron," the professor added.

Although age is the greatest risk factor for dementia, factors such as genetics and diet are also implicated in the condition.

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