Considering the millions of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease all around the world, it is not strange there is constant research going on in this field. Practically every month researchers are publishing their latest finding in medicine on Alzheimer's disease. One such finding is highlighted below.
Researchers from the University of Illinois have found a possible target for Alzheimer drug within the neurons of the brain. This target is a receptor that is found in the membranes of the neurons. Researchers have found that a part of a protein that is connected with Alzheimer's is responsible for activating this receptor, which, in turn, increases activity in that particular neuron causing the neuron to die.
For decades now researchers are aware that beta amyloid is responsible in some way for the disease. But, they do not know the plaques of beta amyloid affect the brain. The only thing they know is that an Alzheimer's patient has these plaque formations in the brain. A study has found that the nerve cells that are nearest to the brain tend to show more activity compared to neurons that are away from the plaques. Hence, this means that there is an imbalance in the activity of the brain that is connected some how to these plaques.
Some other studies have shown that some portions of the beta amyloid tend to stimulate a receptor known as AMPA receptor. This receptor when stimulated allows the ions of calcium and sodium to enter the cells. Under normal circumstances, the AMPA receptor only opens the way for the ions when it reacts with glutamate, which is a strong neurotransmitter and is considered vital for normal functioning of the brain, memory and also learning. When the ions enter the neurons, they cause a nerve impulse to form.
Although the researchers know this, they have not been able to figure out the exact mechanism of how the beta amyloid actually allows the AMPA receptor to open the channel for the ions.
The researchers from the University of Illinois found that a protein called beta 2 adrenergic receptor is present in the membrane of cells just like the AMPA receptor. While this protein gets activated by hormones and neurotransmitters, it can also be stimulated by beta amyloid, and this, in turn, causes a number of activities to take place including activating the ion channels of the AMPA receptor. However, if the AMPA receptor is blocked, then the beta amyloid plaques will not form in the brain cells. However, this receptor cannot be blocked as it is vital for memory and learning. Hence, beta 2 adrenergic receptor comes into play. The beta amyloid reacts with a different part of the beta 2 adrenergic receptor than the hormones and neurotransmitter. So, using this portion of the protein receptor, beta amyloid can be blocked leading to the slowing down of the declining mental function found in people suffering from Alzheimer's.
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