The most complete review of the peptide behind Alzheimer's

The killer protein, properly explained
3-D simulation of an amyloid-beta protein. Credit: SISSA

The hope is to be able, one day, to fight the pathogenic action of the amyloid-beta protein, whose build-up is associated with Alzheimer's disease. In the meantime, scientists—including a group from the International School for Advanced Studies, SISSA, in Trieste—have synthesized the knowledge acquired about this protein over the last few decades in a review paper that is destined to become a milestone for future research.

"It will still take many years to understand the mechanisms leading to the formation of the characteristic plaques seen in brains affected by Alzheimer's disease", explains Alessandro Laio, SISSA professor. "We know they are mostly a build-up of amyloid-beta peptide, the that research is currently focusing on". And, as of today, all those involved in biomolecular research on Alzheimer's will have access to a new and important instrument: an extensive and complete review of all scientific knowledge about this "killer protein" has in fact just been published in the journal Chemical Reviews. The work, coordinated by Philippe Derremaux of the French CNRS, engaged the world's leading research centres in the field, bringing together experimentalists and theoreticians. Among them, the group headed by Laio At SISSA, which includes Baftizadeh Fahimeh and Daniele Granata.

"The work done for this review is unique" comments Laio. "Normally, this kind of study is carried out by a small number of scientists who are necessarily experts in a specific sector. This review, by contrast, involved all those working on this topic and who represent the essence of research in this field". When science becomes so advanced, as is the case here, it is unlikely that one person (or even few people) can understand and report on all of its aspects. "Research into amyloid-beta, as well as being extremely specialised, is also multidisciplinary. So, to understand what's been done so far, it's necessary to bring together different competences that are sometimes very distant from one another", continues Laio.

The killer protein, properly explained
3-D simulation of an amyloid-beta protein. Credit: SISSA

"This review is destined to become a reference for everyone in this sector as it provides the most comprehensive state of the art in this field. Its utility is also practical: for many researchers it will mean considerably cutting down the time needed to explore the subject in depth before designing their experiments".

The study combines experimental and theoretical aspects (the latter, in particular, the focus of research at SISSA). "Everyone hopes that one day they'll be able to understand and fight this disease which, with the world's growing life expectancy, is becoming increasingly widespread. The efforts to be made are still enormous. We hope we have given a significant contribution through our work".

More in detail

The killer protein, properly explained
3-D simulation of an amyloid-beta protein. Credit: SISSA

The amyloid-beta peptide (or A-beta) is a protein that is normally present in our body and that in the vast majority of cases has a benign, physiological function.

However, the same protein is also the main constituent of senile plaques, extracellular deposits that build up in the brains of individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease, a form of age-related senile dementia that leads to severe impairment of cognitive function and eventually to death.

In , the central core is composed of and the outer portion of neuronal waste ("debris" from no longer functioning nerve cells). These formations are found all over the brain, but especially in the hippocampus (an area known to be associated with memory, and hence the severe deterioration of this function in patients) and in other areas (frontal and parietal lobes).

Explore further

Scientists use immunotherapy to reduce memory problems with Alzheimer's disease

Journal information: Chemical Reviews

Provided by International School of Advanced Studies
Citation: The most complete review of the peptide behind Alzheimer's (2015, March 30) retrieved 17 September 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more