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Neurological Disorders Channel
Reported August 15, 2013

Aging Brains Vulnerable to Neurodegenerative Diseases

(Ivanhoe Newswire) —The steady accumulation of a protein in healthy, aging brains may explain seniors' vulnerability to neurodegenerative disorders, a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

The pharmaceutical industry has spent billions of dollars on futile clinical trials directed at treating Alzheimer's disease by ridding brains of a substance called amyloid plaque, but the new findings have identified another mechanism. A protein called C1q, well-known as a key initiator of immune response, increasingly lodges at contact points connecting nerve cells in the brain to one another. Elevated C1q concentrations at these contact points may render them prone to catastrophic destruction by brain-swelling immune cells, triggered when a catalytic event such as brain injury, systemic infection, or a series of small strokes, unleashes a second set of substances on the synapses.

The study's unexpected findings could fundamentally change the way scientists think about neurodegenerative disease.

For more information go to: http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2013/august/barres.html

SOURCE: Journal of Neuroscience, August 2013

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