In BriefThe molecule sticks to faulty proteins and stops them forming toxic clusters in the brain.
- A key step in the development of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases is the accumulation or “nucleation” of misfolded proteins – known as amyloid fibrils – that do not disperse or dissolve away but form toxic clusters and help the disease spread in the brain.
- The molecule that the international team has discovered is a chaperone called Brichos that sticks to threads of amyloid fibrils and stops them coming into contact with each other, thus breaking the toxic chain reaction.The study shows that Brichos effectively blocks secondary nucleation and stops the chain reaction that speeds up Alzheimer’s disease.
- In humans, Brichos helps proteins avoid misfolding. Lab tests showed that when the chaperone encounters an amyloid fibril, it binds itself to sites on its surface forming a coating that stops it helping other proteins to misfold and nucleate into toxic oligomers.