Protein Besides Amyloid Beta Linked to Alzheimer’s Memory Problems

Protein Besides Amyloid Beta Linked to Alzheimer’s Memory Problems
Mice with Alzheimer's who are unable to produce the protein Ephexin5 have no memory problems, despite having brains littered with the amyloid beta protein that has been linked to the disease, a study reports. The finding prompted Johns Hopkins University researchers to conclude that blocking the protein, which is found in excess in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, may be a way to treat the disease. It also may explain why levels of amyloid beta in the brain do not correlate with the severity of Alzheimer's symptoms. Many scientists believe overproduction of amyloid beta is responsible for the development of the disease. The study, “Reducing expression of synapse-restricting protein Ephexin5 ameliorates Alzheimer’s-like impairment in mice,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. “Ephexin5 is a tantalizing pharmaceutical target because, in otherwise healthy adults, there’s very little present in the brain,” Gabrielle L. Sell, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and first author of the study, said in a press release. “That means shutting off Ephexin5 should carry very few side effects." The research team started pondering Ephexin5's role when other researchers showed that the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have high levels of a factor called EphB2. EphB2 controls Ephexin5. Earlier research suggests EphB2 reduces the number of dendritic spines — or tiny protrusions of nerve cells
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