Why is it so difficult to find effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease neurodegeneration? Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States explain that the pattern of neurodegeneration is more complex than previously thought.
According to an article published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, in neurodegenerative diseases, the destruction of neurons begins in one area of the brain and spreads to others, causing extensive loss of brain tissue. The pathogenic tau protein, which folds in the wrong way, plays an important role in this. Interestingly, scientists still don't know exactly how it is transmitted from cell to cell. Hypothetically, it could be localized to the affected focus to stop cognitive degeneration.
There have been various models to explain the mechanism of tau-protein distribution across brain tissues, but none of them fully explained the observed pattern and contradicted the conclusions of the other.
The new study shows that they are all partially correct and combine with each other to provide a coherent model of how cells absorb normal and dysfunctional tau protein.
It was thought that there was a specific receptor on the surface of the cells that was responsible for tau uptake. However, scientists found out that there are actually several pathways for the conditionally pathogenic protein to enter, which happens rather quickly and takes a few minutes. In this case, neurons do not parse which tau protein they absorb, which requires a more subtle approach to treatment that has no side effects.
According to scientists, treatment of Alzheimer's disease should involve the use of several drugs, similar to how HIV infection is treated.