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Gene 'hinders brain's attempts to expel Alzheimer's protein'

Gene 'hinders brain's attempts to expel Alzheimer's protein'
17th November 2008

Scientists say a certain gene is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease because it hinders the brain's ability to expel a harmful protein.

People who carry two copies of the gene have an approximately eight to ten times greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than people who do not, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Researchers found that in such individuals, a protein known as ApoE4 becomes more heavily involved in the brain's attempts to rid itself of harmful amyloid beta proteins - and ApoE4 is considerably less efficient at performing the task.

Leader of the research team Berislav Zlokovic said "one of the major risk factors" in the development of the disease had been further explained by the study.

Rashid Deane, one of the authors, added: "It's as if you have a pile of trash building up in the brain and you need to move the trash away before it becomes toxic."

Another team of scientists from St Louis University has suggested that it has developed a way of enabling Alzheimer's medicines to more easily reach those parts of the brain where they are needed most, by selectively disabling the blood-brain barrier.

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