Researchers have found a way to design an antibody that can identify the toxic particles that destroy healthy brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease--a potential advance in the fight against this dire disease. The new method is able to recognize these toxic particles, known as amyloid-beta oligomers (image shows solution form of amyloid-beta peptide 1-42), which are the hallmark of the disease, leading to hope that new diagnostic methods can be developed for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The team, from the University of Cambridge, University College London, and Lund University, designed an antibody that is highly accurate at detecting toxic oligomers and quantifying their numbers. Their results are reported in PNAS. "There is an urgent unmet need for quantitative methods to recognize oligomers--which play a major role in Alzheimer's disease, but are too elusive for standard antibody discovery strategies," said Professor Michele Vendruscolo, PhD, from Cambridge's Centre for Misfolding Diseases (https://www.cmd.ch.cam.ac.uk/) in the UK, who led the research. "Through our innovative design strategy, we have now discovered antibodies to recognize these toxic particles." Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and costs more than £26 billion (~$32 billion) each year, a figure which is expected to more than double in the next 25 years. Estimates put the current cost to the global economy at nearly £1 trillion (~$1.2 trillion) per year.
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