News of the WeekNeurobiology

New Clue to the Cause of Alzheimer's

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Science  25 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5521, pp. 1468
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5521.1468a

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A small protein called amyloid beta is researchers' prime suspect for the cause of the abnormal protein deposits in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, but they don't know what causes the protein to accumulate. Now on page 1550, a research team provides direct evidence in mice that a protease called neprilysin could be a natural amyloid beta-degrading enzyme. The work suggests that neprilysin deficiency could lead to Alzheimer's; if so, it could offer Alzheimer's researchers an important new line of investigation to pursue in their efforts to tame this devastating disease.