The scientists are studying fibres formed between protein aggregates called amyloid and nucleic acids that are the building blocks of DNA. The researchers have found that the binding of Amyloid (A) to Nucleic Acid (NA) in the ANA fibres helps them grow.
Some types of ANA fibres may have been present on the early earth as life first emerged. Other types form plaques in the brain where they are toxic to nerve cells, causing damage and the symptoms of dementia.
Prof Trevor Dale, from the School of Bioscience at Cardiff University, explains further:
“Our findings have importance for Alzheimer’s disease because it may be that we can find a way to stop the ANA fibres forming and protect the brain from harm. We also think that these fibres may have played a role on the early earth where they could have been the first entities subject to Darwinian evolution.”
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“If we can understand how amyloid forms and becomes toxic, we may be able to find out how to stop it, opening the door to developing new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
“Research in Cardiff is making great progress towards defeating dementia and we look forward to hearing the latest findings at our upcoming event.
“Research is the only answer to Alzheimer’s disease. We must invest now to find the treatments we urgently need for the 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia today, and protect future generations from this devastating condition.”
To find out more about the latest Alzheimer’s research the public are invited to a free event in Cardiff on 31st May, 11am-3:30pm. Everyone affected by dementia as a patient, carer, family or health professional is welcome. The talks take place at Cardiff City Stadium, advance booking essential. More details on research events pages.