What scientific researchers thought was a useless protein may prove more useful than they knew. Amyloid beta proteinshavebeen thought to be the main culprit behind Alzheimer's. In recent studies, the protein doesn't seem to benefit the body much, which is why most scientists have deemed it useless. However, the solution to our problem is often revealed to us in the problem itself, which is why scientists have begun to ask themselves a very important question: could amyloid beta be used to cure Alzheimer's?

A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have already begun to explore this possibility.

Group representatives Dr.Rudolph Tanzi (Professor of Neurology at Harvard University) and Dr. Robert Moir (Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard University) published a study inScience Translational Medicinethat suggested that the protein could serve as the brain's defensive mechanism against invading microbes.

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's is aform of dementia that results in memory loss and difficulty solving problems as time progresses. The early signs of Alzheimer's are subtle. Some early symptoms include:

  • Confusion about time and place
  • Difficulty finding words during conversation
  • Misplacing objects regularly
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts
  • Difficulty responding to every day issues

While ways to spot Alzheimer's are being explored, scientists are still unaware of any effective methods to cure it.

Why do Scientists believe Amyloid Beta Proteins could be the solution?

The team of researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital conducted an experiment where they tested two groups of mice, one with no amyloid beta proteins in their system and the other with large amounts of it. The group then injected the mice with a strain of salmonella.

Their findings? The mice who had a larger numbers of these proteins lived about twice as long compared to the mice who didn't have the protein.

This ultimately proves the theory that amyloid proteins serve as a protective barrier from diseases. As life progresses, we accumulate more and more of these proteins, which is probably why we don't see many cases of Alzheimer's in the younger generations.

What needs to happen next?

Despite their findings, the group of researchers still have a long way to go. The drugs that are being developed still need to be tested before they can become fully accessible to the public. In addition, the recent discovery adds more to the fire. Now that scientists know amyloid beta proteins actually serve a positive purpose, it's imperative that they don't just simply find ways to destroy the protein. Instead, they must find a way to reduce the number of proteins in the body. This will undoubtedly be an extremely difficult task to accomplish because scientists must determine just how much of the protein to cut back.

Although the team still has a long journey ahead of them, the discoveries they've made are invaluable to the scientific community. Hopefully we will be able to see a cure to Alzheimer's a few years down the road.