Researchers report a step forward in understanding the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Two genes that are commonly mutated in the early-onset form of Alzheimer's may cause the disorder by altering how presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters, according to a study published this week in Nature.
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The mechanism may apply to other neurodegenerative disorders as well, the researchers say. "This is a new concept that's interesting to know," said molecular neurobiologist linkurl:Ilya Bezprozvanny; of the Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, who was not involved in the work. More than 100 different mutations in two genes coding for the proteins presenilin 1 and 2 are associated with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, but the exact effects of these mutations on neural function is still unclear. "It's the first [study] suggesting that presenilins play a presynaptic role," Bezprozvanny said. In 2007, molecular geneticist and neuroscientist linkurl:Jie Shen; of Harvard Medical School and...

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