Scientists are researching Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from all angles and gradually closing in on the cause of the disease. According to an article in Neuroscience News, a discovery by researchers at the Brain Institute of Queensland University, Australia, uncovered a “seeding” mechanism in brain cells that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
About the Discovery
The Queensland scientists found that tangled neurons, which are the result of a misguided cellular process, cause the tau protein, which is toxic, to seep into normal brain cells.
Professor Jürgen Götz, a researcher of dementia at Queensland, explained that the disruptive seeding mechanism which causes the tau tangles eventually leads to loss of memory and various impairments.
The professor noted that until this new discovery, no one had been able to ascertain how and why tau seeds, once they were encapsulated inside healthy cells, were then able to escape.
Professor Götz further explained that the research team identified small sacs (exosomes) that transport messages in or out of cells. These exosomes cause a reaction that creates holes in their own cell membrane, allowing toxic seeds to escape.
About Tangles and Tau
Tangles are formed in the brain relative to tau buildup. The tau is joined by amyloid plaque which are abnormally shaped proteins. This combination is the basis of many neurological diseases.
Dr. Juan Polanco, also a Queensland brain researcher, predicted that the findings may allow scientists to finally determine what causes the non-inherited types of Alzheimer’s disorder and many other dementias to occur.
He added that identifying the underlying mechanisms will enable the scientists to disrupt the process and may eventually put a stop to AD. Dr. Polanco believes that this particular cellular process can be effective in many cognitive diseases beginning with dementia involving the frontal lobe to unique neurological diseases involving toxic tau.
Cancer enters the picture with emerging evidence that exosomes can load messages reflecting a tumor’s condition and also cause them to spread cancer quickly.