Alzheimer's treatment attacks plaque formations

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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, may have found a treatment for Alzheimer's disease that targets the disease at the cellular level.

A study of animal models found that the new treatment improves memory in lab mice. One of the main causes of Alzheimer's is the buildup of amyloid plaque in memory centers of the brain, according to researchers. This plaque is formed when larger proteins (amyloid precursor proteins, or APP) are cut into pieces by protease enzymes.

Researchers have developed a method that prevents the APPs from being cut. They also discovered that elevated levels of another protease called Cathepsin B (CatB) are found in 99% of all Alzheimer's patients. Using drug therapy, they found ways to reduce levels of CatB, which also led to improved memory. The full report will be published in the March 21 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.