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Lasers destroy plaques in Alzheimer's

SCIENCE

The buildup of proteins into amyloid fibrils or plaques is common in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. Now, scientists have discovered how an infrared laser can cause those plaques to disintegrate from the inside out, a process known as fibril dissociation.


Even after decades of research, getting rid of these plaques has remained a herculean challenge. To date, treatment options have been limited and not very effective. More recently, though, instead of using drugs, some scientists have turned to alternative approaches, such as ultrasound, to destroy these plaques and halt the progression of Alzheimer’s.


In the latest of these approaches, researchers from the Tokyo University of Science, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France, and Nagoya University are using both laser experiments and molecular dynamics simulations to breakup those plaques.


Together, the laser experiment and the simulation make a good case for a novel treatment for neurodegenerative disorders. Research team leader, Dr Takayasu Kawasaki remarked, “In view of the inability of existing drugs to slow or reverse the cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, developing non-pharmaceutical approaches is very desirable. The ability to use infrared lasers to dissociate amyloid fibrils opens up a promising approach.”


The team is now working on a framework that combines both laser experiments with simulations to study the process of fibril dissociation in even more detail, offering a little more hope for those dealing with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

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