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Mechanism Behind Age-related Disease Unveiled Using Milk Proteins

by Julia Samuel on April 21, 2017 at 3:15 PM
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Mechanism Behind Age-related Disease Unveiled Using Milk Proteins

The proteins in milk after treating it at ultra high temperature (UTH) aggregate over a period of months and are found in plaque deposits in cases of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

A new study on UHT milk is helping scientists to better understand Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and type 2 diabetes, opening the door to improved treatments for these age-related diseases. About 500 million people worldwide suffer from these diseases, which cause millions of deaths each year.

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Co-lead researcher, ANU Professor John Carver, said that two unrelated proteins aggregate in UHT milk over a period of months to form clusters called amyloid fibrils, which cause the milk to transform from a liquid into a gel.

He said the same type of protein clusters are found in plaque deposits in cases of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. "Parkinson's, dementia and type 2 diabetes are big problems for the ageing population in Australia and many other countries around the world," said Professor Carver from the ANU Research School of Chemistry.
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"Our interest in milk proteins led to a discovery of the reason for this gelling phenomenon occurring in aged UHT milk. The research does not suggest UHT milk can cause these age-related diseases."

Professor Carver said milk proteins changed structurally when heated briefly to around 140 degrees to produce UHT milk, causing the gelling phenomenon with long-term storage. He said normal pasteurised milk did not form amyloid fibrils.

Source: Eurekalert
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