By Gabrielle DeMarco
are challenging current thinking on the causes and prevention
of Alzheimer’s disease, offering a new hypothesis that could be
the key to preventing this form of dementia. The researchers
have found that a specific imbalance between two peptides may
be the cause of the fatal neurological disease that affects
more than five million people in the United States.
“We have found that two peptides, Aβ42 and Aβ40, must be in
balance for normal function,” said Chunyu Wang, lead researcher
and assistant professor of biology at Rensselaer. “They are
like the Yin and Yang in Taiji, an ancient Chinese philosophy.
When the peptides are produced in the correct proportions, the
brain is healthy; but when that delicate balance is changed,
pathological changes will occur in the brain and the person’s
memories become hazy, leading to eventual dementia.”
Wang expects that this imbalance could be the main factor in
the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. If correct, the
addition of Aβ40 may stop the disease’s development. Wang notes
that further research is needed, but his preliminary results
challenge the current mode of thinking about how these peptides
contribute to the progression of the disease.