Scientists uncover possible root cause of Alzheimer's, could yield new treatment options

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A recent scientific discovery could lead to an entirely new class of drugs to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease, according to recent reports.

Researchers in the United States, France and Korea have been focusing their investigative efforts on a protein called “RanBP9.” Specifically, the N60 section of that protein is now believed to be associated with elevated levels of known Alzheimer's pathogen amyloid beta plaques. These plaques are often found in the brains of Alzheimer's victims. Brain cells that expressed the N60 part of the protein produced five times the amount of amyloid beta plaques that normal cells produce, according to researchers.

The finding creates a new avenue for researchers when it comes to developing drugs and other therapies to treat Alzheimer's. By targeting the N60 section of the RanBP9 protein, they hope to reduce the amount of amyloid beta plaques being produced in the brain. That could slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The report appears Sept. 3 in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.