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Grantees in the News: In Alzheimer’s Disease, Tau Protein is Transmitted Cell to Cell

Feb 3
2012

Grantees in the News: In Alzheimer’s Disease, Tau Protein is Transmitted Cell to Cell View MoreBACK

On February 1, The New York Times reported on two new studies led by AFAR grantees that appear to settle the question of whether Alzheimer's disease progresses through the brain by cell-to-cell transmission or because of variations in the inherent susceptibility of different areas of the brain to the processes of the disease. The studies, led by Scott A. Small, MD, and Karen Duff, PhD, (Columbia University Medical Center), and Bradley T. Hyman, MD, PhD, (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School), used mice genetically engineered to produce the human tau protein characteristic of neuron death in Alzheimer's. Although only one part of the mouse brains contained cells capable of producing this human tau, the protein was eventually found to have moved into areas of the brain with neurons incapable of producing tau on their own, indicating that the tau was transmitted from cell to cell. These findings suggest that a therapy to interrupt this spread of tau from cell to cell is discovered could be a treatment or cure for Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Small is a recipient of a 2000 Paul B. Beeson Career Development Award in Aging Research and Dr. Hyman is a recipient of a 1992 AFAR Research Grant.





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