More Evidence that Beta Amyloid May Not Be Not All Bad

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

I recently wrote here about research published in the online Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggesting that beta amyloid, widely considered a key culprit in Alzheimer's pathology, might play a key role in learning. This alludes to a more complex relationship between beta amyloid and overall brain health compared to the more simplistic view that this particular molecule is always bad.

Now, a new study out of Tel Aviv University's Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and published in Nature Neuroscience, has offered the first biological explanation of how beta amyloid might aid learning. The research, performed in vitro on mouse brains, demonstrated that beta amyloid helps regulate synaptic function. The results support the earlier hypothesis that there is an optimal level of beta amyloid as opposed to the original thinking that "less is better".

If these results are confirmed and further found to hold true in human brains, it could greatly alter current drug development activities, many of which are pursuing strategies to prevent the production of beta amyloid or to eliminate it from the brain.

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