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Medical News and Perspectives
May 5, 2004

New Alzheimer Disease Target Identified

JAMA. 2004;291(17):2063. doi:10.1001/jama.291.17.2063

Scientists have long known that amyloid β (Aβ) deposits in the brain are a hallmark of Alzheimer disease and that this neurotoxic protein is somehow connected with damage to mitochondria that triggers the generation of free radicals and death of neurons. Now, an international team of researchers has identified a direct link between these two elements, providing a potential new target for treating the brain-ravaging disorder (Science. 2004;304:228-452).

Researchers from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues at other institutions in the United States, China, and Scotland, discovered that Aβ enters the mitochondria of brain cells and interacts there with an enzyme called Aβ-binding alcohol dehydrogenase (ABAD) to form a complex. Aβ-ABAD complex was present in the brain of patients who died of Alzheimer disease and in mice that are genetically engineered to produce a precursor for Aβ, but little was found in brain tissue from nondemented age-matched patients or from control mice.

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