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Brain's Immune System Could Be Harnessed to Fight Alzheimer's

(University of Rochester Medical Center) A new study … suggests that the brain's immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease…
The findings are the culmination of years of investigation that were triggered when [M. Kerry] O'Banion and his colleagues made a surprising discovery while studying mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. They observed that amyloid beta plaques -- which scientists believe play a major role in the disease -- were being cleared in animals with chronic brain inflammation…
The researchers conducted a series of experiments to see if they could replicate the phenomenon of amyloid beta clearance absent brain inflammation. This required that they "trick" the microglia into action which was accomplished by injecting a specific protein molecule, a cytokine, into the brain. Cytokines play important roles in cell signaling and the researchers were able to replicate the mechanisms that instruct the microglia to activate an anti-inflammatory response.
Once the microglia were mobilized in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers observed a more than 60 percent reduction in amyloid beta in the brain.
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