Scientists focus on activating natural enzyme to treat Alzheimer's

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A new dementia treatment approach enhances the brain's natural processes to clear out harmful enzyme clumps, according to a new report.

Amyloid-beta plaques are widely believed to be a major contributor to Alzheimer's disease. In afflicted persons, these proteins build up to dangerous levels. Much research has been focused on blocking the production of these proteins, but scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease are experimenting with ways to enhance the brain's ability to dissolve and dispose of them after they've been created.

Cathespin B is an enzyme the brain naturally produces to control levels of amyloid-beta proteins, according to researchers. Increased levels of the enzyme in lab mice have proven highly therapeutic for the rodents, who were bred to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's, according to their report. Their full report appears in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.