Fisher Scientists Discover New Ways to Rid Cells of Alzheimer’s Protein

Beta-amyloid is a protein that causes Alzheimer’s disease when toxic forms of it accumulate in the brain.   Two years ago Fisher Center scientists discovered that nerve cells are able to rid themselves of beta-amyloid through a process called autophagy, which provides cells with a means to destroy, or digest proteins that are no longer useful or that may become toxic.  Autophagy works by bringing proteins to structures within the cell called lysosomes, which then digest the proteins. The scientists also showed that an experimental drug-like molecule called Smer28 helped the cells get rid of beta-amyloid by stimulating the process of autophagy.  This groundbreaking research triggered a worldwide effort to find drugs that stimulate autophagy to treat Alzheimer’s.