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"Molecular surgery" to slow Alzheimer's

9th January 2006

A treatment of Alzheimer's disease that slows and possibly halts the degenerative condition has emerged from Chile and Spain.

Researchers claim that a technique called "molecular surgery" could slow the progress of the disease without harming healthy brain cells.

The researchers believe they have found a way to destroy the beta-amyloid fibrils and plaque, which many experts believe contribute to the mental decline of Alzheimer's sufferers, by attaching gold nanoparticles to them followed by exposure to weak radiation.

It is hoped the technique will also be applicable to other neurodegenerative diseases that involve protein aggregation, including Parkinson's and Huntington's.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, which affects an estimated 4.5 million people in the US, according to the National Institute on Aging.

The figure is expected to rise as the population's life expectancy continues to grow.