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Gene Could Help to Clear Brain Plaques Responsible for Alzheimer's
Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013 6:33 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

(Source: - Mapping out how an Alzheimer's gene works could lead to new treatments.

So far, nearly two dozen genes scattered across four chromosomes have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. But identifying such genetic risk factors doesn't mean that researchers fully understand how they contribute to cognitive decline and dementia. And that understanding is often crucial to turning genetic information into effective treatments.

Now a group of scientists report that they have pieced together the back story of one gene, known as CD33, that could lead to exciting new ways of removing the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and cause so many problems with memory and cognitive functions.

CD33 functions as a molecular housekeeper, patrolling the nervous system for any material that doesn't belong and could impair normal brain function. That includes the deposits of amyloid protein that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, eventually forming sticky plaques that compromise normal nerve function before destroying them.

But when the team looked at the brains of patients who had died of Alzheimer's, they found that CD33 also had a darker side. In patients with a higher burden of amyloid plaques, CD33 also appeared in excess. And so did tons of dead neurons."At some point, as the amyloid is making the cells sick, and forming tangles as lots of neurons are dying, the microglia put on their battle gear and turn radical, killing whatever they think is attacking the brain," says Dr. Rudolph Tanzi."The result is friendly fire, and they start to kill so many neurons that the microglia are now detrimental; they are no longer clearing but they're rounding up nerve cells and shooting out free radicals and causing a lot of damage."

But the discovery could be an important step toward finally developing an effective Alzheimer's drug treatment, since clearing amyloid plaques could be critical in addressing the deposits of amyloid that mushroom throughout the brain as the disease progresses."We just need to take advantage of the housekeeping functions of CD33 and entice them to stay helpful and not go crazy," says Tanzi.

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Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:44 AM
Joined: 4/15/2012
Posts: 247



I have read two articles on CD33 and it looks "hopefull". I don't want to get to excited as I know it could take years to do all the trials to find the right drug to help conquer Alz


Mimi S.
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 6:59 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7027

Hi FFWife,

For those of us with the disease, we can have hope for the future, but we have to do our best with what is now available.

However, who knows: some of us may still reap the benefits of current research. And hopefully our children will benefit much more.
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 8:33 PM
Joined: 4/15/2012
Posts: 247

I agree we can hope for tomorow but have to do the best we can for today and pray the world will change for our children