The average brain is wired with thousands of kilometres of nerve fibres. A new approach to understanding and potentially treating Alzheimer’s disease involves the tiny tubes found inside them.
Nerve fibres are the long arms that extend from brain cells and allow them to communicate with each other and carry information. Inside the fibres are a set of pipes, known as microtubules, that provide structural support and serve as a transportation system for the compounds that keep brain cells healthy. These tubes also regularly rebuild themselves, perhaps as often as every six to 12 hours, says Jack Tuszynski, a researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
”œThe gist of our story is that if this process is impeded, bad things happen,” says Dr. Tuszynski, who is part of an international team that has put forward a new theory that connects the distinctive brain damage seen in patients who have died from Alzheimer’s disease to problems in microtubule construction.
The team’s recent paper, published in the journal PLoS One, is one of a number of recent developments in Alzheimer’s disease related to basic research on the structure and chemistry of the brain. As scientists learn more about the brain’s infrastructure, they are coming up with new ideas for how to fight a devastating disease. More at the link