Memory-loss protein could lead to early detection of Alzheimer's

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The identification of a specific protein in the brain could improve the detection and prevention of Alzheimer's disease in the future, researchers say.

Doctors at the University of Minnesota have identified a mass of amyloid-b peptides in the brains of laboratory mice suffering from memory loss. The protein essentially puts the neurons in the brain "to sleep," researchers note, causing memory loss associated with Alzheimer's. Scientists have for years pointed to the build up of plaques or proteins causing blockages in the brain as an indication of Alzheimer's disease,

Although this current research only applies to lab mice, the discovery could enhance doctors' ability to diagnose human patients who are at risk for Alzheimer's long before they get it. Doctors then could focus on better prevention and treatment, said study lead author Dr. Karen Hsiao Ashe, professor of neurology and neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.

The study results are in the newest issue of Nature.