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  • Conversation: Blood vessel breakthrough is major step towards Alzheimer’s treatment

    • June 20, 2022 12:59 PM BST
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      Blood vessel breakthrough is major step towards Alzheimer’s treatment

      The discovery may lead to development of drugs that halt disease progression and stop memory loss
      According to research funded by the British Heart Foundation, a breakthrough in understanding Alzheimer’s disease has revealed changes to blood vessels in the brain, potentially presenting a path for developing new drugs to help fight the disease.
      Alzheimer’s disease is traditionally thought of as a disease of the brain cells, where the protein Amyloid-beta (Aβ) accumulates and forms plaques. There is growing evidence, however, that the blood supply to the brain is also affected.
      Researchers at the University of Manchester have found that a smaller version of the protein – called Amyloid-β 1-40 (Aβ 1-40) – builds up in the walls of the small arteries and reduces blood flow to the brain.
      The surface of the brain is covered with small pial arteries which control the brain’s supply of blood and oxygen. If these arteries become narrowed for too long, the brain can’t get enough nutrients and this is one of the causes of memory loss seen in people with the disease.
      When the team looked at pial arteries of older mice with Alzheimer’s that produced too much Aβ1-40, they found that the arteries were narrower compared to those of healthy mice. This narrowing was found to be caused by Aβ 1-40 switching off a protein known as BK which, when working normally, sends a signal which causes arteries to widen.
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