FRIDAY, July 22, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A team of scientists has identified three molecules that appear to stop a key culprit behind Alzheimer's disease.
Each of the three molecules protects a protein called "tau," which becomes hopelessly tangled in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's, according to findings published in the July issue of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The tau protein is normally present in healthy brains, too, but is somehow corrupted during Alzheimer's disease, forming neuron tangles that are one of the hallmarks of the disease.
The corruption is caused by an enzyme called CDK5, and researchers were able to find three small molecules out of a library of 58,000 that were able to protect the protein from the enzyme.
This finding could help produce drugs to effectively treat Alzheimer's, noted the study's authors, who were led by Ken Kosik, co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The National Institutes of Health have more about Alzheimer's disease.