Scientists from Translational Genomics Research Institute (Tgen) have identified specific proteins that might lead to memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Three proteins EIF2AK2, DYRK1A and AKAP13 have been found to cause a malfunction in tau, a protein critical to the formation of the microtubule bridges within brain cells, or neurons.
These bridges support the synaptic connections that, like computer circuits, allow neurons to communicate with each other.
"The ultimate result of tau dysfunction is that neurons lose their connections to other neurons, and when neurons are no longer communicating, that has profound effects on cognition - the ability to think and reason," said Dr. Travis Dunckley, an Associate Investigator in TGen's Neurodegenerative Research Unit and the scientific paper's senior author.
"This study used a powerful tool to discover three proteins that may be involved in tangle formation," said Dr. Eric Reiman, clinical director of TGen's Neurogenomics Division and executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute.
"If safe and well-tolerated tangle-busting medications can be developed, they offer great promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," Reiman added.
The study is published in BMC Genomics.