Texas scientists make major breakthrough in study of Alzheimer

NBC Bay Area:
Despite billions of dollars spent on clinical trials through the decades, Alzheimer's disease remains one of the most devastating and baffling diseases in the world, affecting more than 5 million Americans alone.

But Dallas scientists say they've made a major breakthrough in the fight.

They have discovered a "Big Bang" of Alzheimer's disease — the point at which a healthy protein becomes toxic, but has not yet formed deadly tangles in the brain.

According to a study from UT Southwestern's O'Donnell Brain Institute, scientists found the shape-shifting nature of a tau molecule just before it begins sticking to itself to form larger aggregates.

The tau protein is believed to be the key driver of Alzheimer's disease.

The revelation offers a new strategy to detect the devastating disease before it takes hold and has spawned an effort to develop treatments that stabilize tau proteins before they shift shape.

Doctors involved in the research call it the biggest finding in Alzheimer's research to date.
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"In the case of other diseases that are due to a shape-shift protein, it's been possible to design a drug that is approved that helps prevent that shape shift from occurring. If it's been done in other diseases, it could possibly be done in Alzheimer's," Diamond said.
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Hopefully, they can develop a drug to counteract the shape-shift protein before more people come down with this awful disease.

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