Researchers examine role of ‘junk proteins’ in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

Part of fighting the development of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be getting the brain to clean its room more often.

The infamous plaques and tangles that clog up the brain’s neuro pathways—the hallmarks of dementia—are clumps of “junk proteins” that the body’s cells should be clearing away. Most of the time, the body recycles damaged or misformed proteins, but the recycling process slows down as we age, leading to a backlog of trash, notes an article in Scientific American.

In an extra twist of irony, many of the proteins that form in a misshapen way are tasked with the removal of cellular junk, exacerbating the waste management problem. Other misformed proteins can trigger normal proteins to perform unhealthy actions, including the creation of too many beta-amyloids, another hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

The hunt for treatments that can assist in the cellular cleanup is a major part of current dementia research, including ways to open the clogged pathways and ways to keep the cleanup crew from falling behind.

To learn more, read the full article In Scientific American.

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia