Dr. Bess Frost of The Barshop Institute and her colleagues have identified a new biological pathway involved in Alzheimer’s disease. In experiments using fruit flies, blocking the pathway reduced the death of brain cells, suggesting that interfering with the pathway could represent a promising new strategy to treat the disease in human patients.
Approximately 5.4 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease. One of the characteristics of the disease is that a protein called tau forms clumps, or aggregates, in the brain.
“We have identified multiple new cellular processes that go awry in Alzheimer’s disease because of pathological tau,” said Bess Frost, Ph.D., assistant professor, Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Each of these processes that connect tau with brain cell death are potential drug targets. This new knowledge will allow more informed development of therapies for the disease.”