Is Apoptosis Key in Alzheimer's Disease?

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Science  28 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5381, pp. 1303-1304
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5381.1303

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Researchers have found that the brains of Alzheimer's patients contain dying neurons that display some characteristic signs of cell suicide (apoptosis), such as DNA breaks and activation of enzymes called caspases that carry out the death program. Because the neurons don't display all the typical apoptosis signs, researchers are divided over whether they really are dying a programmed death. And even if they are, there are questions about whether anti-apoptotic drugs will help Alzheimer's patients since lack of a good animal model of the disease has prevented tests to see whether the cellular equivalent of suicide intervention will help slow the disease's progression. But despite the uncertainties, many Alzheimer's experts think the issue is worth pursuing, because if apoptosis does turn out to play a role in the nerve cell loss of the disease, the finding could lead to badly needed new therapies.