Link found between proteins responsible for Alzheimer's and vCJD

A Chinese research team has described a 'striking similarity' between the proteins involved in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

By | August 25, 2000

LONDON, August 25 (SPIS MedWire). The proteins responsible for Alzheimer's disease and variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) seem to have some similarities. Both of these diseases arise because of malfunctioning proteins: the amyloid precursor protein in Alzheimer's, and the prion protein in vCJD. Professor Chi Ming Yang and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, found a similar pattern of amino acids in both these proteins: a reductive amino acid followed by three non-reductive amino acids. Speaking at the meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington DC this week, Professor Yang said: "This suggests a common molecular mechanism underlying the initiation stages of sporadic Alzheimer's disease and both sporadic and genetic prion diseases." Reductive amino acids are more prone to damage from oxygen-containing free radicals. Normally the body is able to clear itself of free radicals but with age they may accumulate and damage protein molecules, causing them to fail. Alzheimer's and prion diseases therefore seem to start in similar ways. Although the diseases then progress differently, these new results could help focus efforts to develop preventative drugs for both diseases.

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