NEW ALZHEIMER'S PROTEIN
At the core of much of the research into Alzheimer’s disease is the mechanism that generates the amyloid-b (Ab) peptide. This peptide is the building block of the toxic ‘plaques’ characteristic of brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This week Nature (Vol 407, No. 6800, 7 September 2000), Peter St George Hyslop of the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues describe a new protein - which they call ‘nicastrin’ after the Italian village of Nicastro - that may be involved in generating the Ab peptide. Nicastrin is a component of the ‘presenilin complexes’ - mutations in the genes that generate these are linked to early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease.
"Their findings not only advance our understanding of this process and its relationship to Alzheimer’s disease, but also provide a new molecular target for the design of drugs to treat this neurodegenerative disorder," says Dale Schenk of Elan Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, California, in an accompanying News and Views article. "More fundamentally," he adds, "their work offers insight into how cells might dispose of membrane proteins that they no longer need."
Peter St George Hyslop
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