Researchers at the University of Alabama have uncovered what could be crucial information to fully understand Alzheimer’s. According to their investigations the disease is activated by the defective signalling of norepinephrine.
It is widely accepted in the scientific community that the disease is triggered by the accumulation of amyloid proteins in the brain. These proteins alter another protein known as tau, which in its altered state is toxic to neurons.
However, it was unknown what connected the two processes. The new study has revealed that amyloid proteins stop norepinephrine from signalling in brain neurons, and instead redirect the signal to tau proteins. This signal alters the proteins which in turn begin attacking and killing neurons, subsequently causing Alzheimer’s.
The research provides valuable information on the mechanisms underlying the toxicity of amyloid proteins, which also explains the failure of previous clinical trials. Scientists can now use the discovery to design future medications and find a way to block the damaging redirected brain signals.