For some time, scientists have blamed Alzheimer's disease on a small molecule called amyloid beta protein (A beta) that leaves large gummy deposits in the brain. Recent studies suggest that these A beta proteins stick together to form floating toxic clumps that kill brain cells. Now, UCLA scientists have identified a tiny loop in A beta as the likely culprit behind the adhesion process.
The UCLA team discovered that gene mutations in A beta increase the loop's flexibility, enabling it to join easily with loops from other A beta proteins and form clumps. The loop also appears in the region of the protein that regulates how — and how much — A beta is made.
Principal investigator David Teplow, professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is available for interviews.