A team of researchers led by Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) College scientists has found evidence that metabolic dysfunction is a primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease affecting the elderly worldwide, as well as one of the most common causes of dementia. In Singapore, 1 in 10 people aged 60 or above is believed to suffer from dementia. After more than twenty years of research effort worldwide, scientists are still unable to identify the exact causes of Alzheimer’s and no proven treatment is available. Two competing theories are currently proposed to explain the cause of Alzheimer’s: the first is focused on the accumulation of a specific protein, called amyloid-beta protein, in the brain as the primary cause; whilst a second and more recent theory proposes that metabolic dysfunction, specifically a dysfunction of the cell’s energy-producing machinery called mitochondria is responsible. In a new study published online on October 18, 2019 in eLife (https://elifesciences.org/articles/50069), a team led by Assistant Professor of Science (Biochemistry) Jan Gruber, PhD, from Yale-NUS College discovered that metabolic defects occur well before any significant increase in the amount of amyloid-beta protein could be detected. The open-access article is titled "Metabolic Stress Is a Primary Pathogenic Event In Transgenic Caenorhabditis Elegans Expressing Pan-Neuronal Human Amyloid Beta." The research used a tiny worm called Caenorhabditis elegans to identify these changes because this worm shares many similarities at the molecular level with human cells.
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