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Anti-social Amino Acids Gang Up
Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 7:30 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source: Royal Society of Chemistry) - Scientists have discovered that the amino acid phenylalanine can form the toxic amyloid fibrils that are a hallmark of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

'This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that an amino acid, rather than a peptide or a protein, can form such a structure,' researcher Ehud Gazit at Tel Aviv University explained. As well as throwing new light on the behavior of amino acids, this work could lead to new treatments for the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU), which is caused by high levels of phenylalanine.


PKU sufferers lack the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase, which breaks down phenylalanine. As a result, high levels of phenylalanine quickly build up in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid and brain, leading to seizures, organ damage and unusual posture.

Gazit suspected that the organ and tissue damage may be caused by phenylalanine forming amyloid fibrils. Associated with Alzheimer's disease, these agglomerations of inappropriately folded proteins and peptides have also been found to play a part in Parkinson's disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.


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