Chemist hopes to force Alzheimer's to show its hand
In the past few years, despite the best efforts of scientists and medical researchers, drug after drug designed to slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has failed in clinical trials. Some had no effect on the progression of the disease, others made patients’ symptoms worse, and yet others produced results so equivocal it was difficult to interpret them.
Given this ongoing challenge, some scientists have begun to question the model of the disease many of the drugs assume. Known as the amyloid cascade hypothesis, it posits that the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s is caused by the accumulation in the brain of plaques, or aggregates, of thousands of copies of a peptide called amyloid beta.
Instead of being neurotoxic, the plaques may actually be protective, said Liviu Mirica, associate professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. Read more.