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Receptor helps clear amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease

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A recent study, published on June 25, 2013 in Nature Communications, found that a deficiency of a specific receptor speeds up the buildup of plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Alzheimer’s disease is not just memory loss – Alzheimer’s kills. In one year alone (2010 data), Alzheimer's was reported as the underlying cause of 820 deaths in Connecticut. There are an estimated 70,000 (2010 data) people living with Alzheimer's disease in Connecticut (5.2 million in the United States).

Much attention has been focused on the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain as a major factor in the progression Alzheimer’s. Researchers have now identified a receptor that may be involved in the clearance of these plaques Scara1. Scara1 is known to be involved in clearance of infectious pathogens from the body. Researchers found that a deficiency of Scara1 also accelerates beta-amyloid accumulation, leading to increased mortality. In contrast, they also found that increasing Scara1 expression enhances clearance of the beta-amyloid.

These studies were performed in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. However, their findings suggest that this class of receptors may be a promising target for the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

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