The accumulation of tau proteins in the brain is linked to neurological disorders. It is known to spread quickly between neurons, but new research in mice suggests that this is not immediately harmful and that intervening during the initial accumulation could potentially halt the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Writing in the journal JNeurosci, Grace Hallinan from the UK’s University of Southampton and colleagues describe introducing diseased tau into mouse neurons growing in a cell culture.
Within days, the activated tau had spread to other neurons and begun misfolding and accumulating. However, both the donating and accepting neurons remained healthy and capable of sending electrical messages.
These results, the researchers say, show that tau build-up itself is not harmful; rather, it is the cellular processes it disrupts that kill neurons.
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.