Targeting Toxic Tau Clusters in Brain May Improve Symptoms in Alzheimer’s, Study Shows

Targeting Toxic Tau Clusters in Brain May Improve Symptoms in Alzheimer’s, Study Shows
Treatments targeting clusters of a toxic form of the tau protein may become valuable therapeutic approaches for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases, a new study suggests. The study, “Tau Reduction Prevents Neuronal Loss And Reverses Pathological Tau Deposition And Seeding In Mice With Tauopathy,” was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the accumulation of faulty proteins, such as beta-amyloid or tau, which greatly interferes with proper neuronal activity. Indeed, tau clusters are directly associated with cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but there has been no known treatment to prevent this from happening. Researchers designed a group of short molecules called antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that specifically bind to the tau gene and block its expression in neurons. In mice expressing the mutant P301S human tau — which produces high levels of a toxic form of the human tau protein — ASOs reduced levels of this protein and its accumulation in young animals. It also improved tau clusters that had already formed in the brain of older animals. "This compound may literally help untangle the brain damage caused by tau," Timothy Miller, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author, said in a news release. This tre
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