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Applications

Preventing Plaque Formation in Alzheimer's Disease

In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain contains a buildup of a misfolded protein called “plaque” that is believed to kill brain cells. It has been suggested that normal metal ions in the brain play a role in plaque formation.

Using the synchrotron, scientists showed for the first time that copper and zinc (but not iron) accumulate at exactly the same physical location in the brain as Alzheimer’s plaques.

These findings can be used for developing drugs to specifically target Alzheimer’s plaques.

REFERENCE:
Miller et. al., J. Structural Biology, 155 (2006)

WORK FUNDED BY:
National Institutes of Health

Work performed at the National Synchrotron Light Source.

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The top image shows a normal light view of plaques in brain tissue. X-ray fluorescence shows location of Zn (red) and Cu (blue) overlaying the stained tissue (green).
   
 
             

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