How Do Brain-Clogging Proteins Spread and Can They Be Stopped?
In neurodegenerative diseases, brain-clogging proteins hop from cell to cell. In this video, Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, director of the NINDS, discusses the unified theory of neurodegeneration and one way doctors think they may be able to stop it.
There is kind of a unified theory of nerve degeneration, which is that once one of these proteins
starts to aggregate in a cell, that there's some evidence that that protein can then move to the next cell.
And when it gets in the next cell, it induces that cell's normal protein to aggregate. And then that moves to the next cell,
and it spreads through the brain. So in Alzheimer's, there's evidence that tau is spreading from one part of the brain,
the hippocampal area where that usually starts, and moving through the brain. In Parkinson's, there's evidence that it's actually
starting in the nerves to the gut and then moves into the spinal cord, up the spinal cord to the brain.
And similarly for traumatic encephalopathy, there's an injury to an area of the brain. The tau starts there, and then it
starts spreading around the brain. So the really interesting part of that unified theory is that if you can stop the spread of the protein,
then all the neurodegenerative diseases go, because a mechanism that works for one,
you just change it and it's going to work for the other one. Currently now, the money is on antibodies to these proteins.
So antibodies can be generated to bind to any protein you want.
So the thought is if we can develop antibodies to the tau or the synuclein, that the antibody will
grab onto it and prevent it from jumping to the next cell and clear from the body. And if that turns out to be the case,
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