AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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New Alzheimer's Animal Model More Closely Mimics Human Disease

Penn study of amyloid plaques and tau tangles aims to accelerate discovery of new therapies

By injecting human Alzheimer’s disease brain extracts of pathological tau protein (from postmortem donated tissue) into mice with different amounts of amyloid-? (A?) plaques in their brains, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that amyloid-? facilitates the interaction between the plaques and abnormal tau. This relationship promotes the spread of mutated tau proteins in neurons, which is the hallmark of long-term Alzheimer’s disease. 

“Making an AD mouse model that incorporates both A? and tau pathologies in a more AD-relevant context has been greatly sought after but difficult to accomplish,” said senior author Virginia M-Y Lee, PhD, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) at Penn. “This study is a big step for AD research, which will allow us to test new therapies in a more realistic context.”

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