Study Reveals How Tau Protein Ensnares Other Chemicals to Form Toxic Tangles

NYU release tau

A new study has revealed dozens of previously undiscovered proteins believed to bundle with tau to form toxic, brain-damaging tangles that contribute to FTD and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Scientists have long connected the abnormal accumulation of tau in brain cells to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as FTD and Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research suggests that the tau protein, which normally gives nerve fibers structure, can become toxic when extra chemical molecules accumulate with its structure in the brain, causing it to form tangles that destroy surrounding tissue.

Researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine analyzed the makeup of such tangles and found a dozen proteins they say have not been before tied to tau, as well as several dozen more that appear in the latest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and in the earliest phases of dementia.

The findings will help researchers better understand the molecular interactions that drive brain-damaging diseases related to toxic tau proteins, which in turn could help to advance targets for potential therapies.

The study, made possible due to donated brain tissue samples, provides the largest overview to date of proteins present in tau tangles, according to the researchers. Individuals and families who are interested in learning more about brain donation can find information on the AFTD website.

To read more about the study, click here.

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