A human protein — called CyP40 — can untangle the neurodegenerative clumps that characterize Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, scientists reported Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology. The findings may guide new therapeutic avenues for these conditions.
“We were surprised that CyP40 could disaggregate the tangles,” Laura Blair, a biologist at the University of South Florida and senior author of the study, said because very few human proteins can take these clumps and undo them.
In Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, certain proteins in the brain stick together in toxic, knotted clumps that cause cognitive decline. One example in Alzheimer’s disease is tau protein, an often overshadowed counterpart to the more heavily studied amyloid beta protein.