High-energy lasers may help treat Alzheimer’s disease

Amyloid fibrils are a type of self-assembled proteins/peptides that take on a stacked sheet-like formation.

Amyloid fibril aggregates are known to be a cause of several diseases—including Alzheimer’s—and therefore, it is of immense scientific interest to understand how these aggregates can be broken.

Some types of amyloid fibrils also play a role in the regulation of gene expression in some organisms.

It is also thought that the fiber-like formats appearing in these aggregates act as scaffolds on which to cultivate biomaterials.

Therefore, a suitable technique for breakdown or “dissociation” of amyloid protein fibrils is critical from the perspective of medical treatment, modification of biological structures and functions, and even biomaterial engineering.

In a new study, researchers found that a far-infrared (FIR) free-electron laser (FEL), called FIR-FEL, can be used to break down amyloid protein aggregates, which is a testament to the power of scientific research.

The research was conducted by Japanese scientists from the Tokyo University of Science and elsewhere.

Previous studies have examined the dissociation of amyloid fibrils but with limited success and mixed results.

Because their dissociation in water is difficult, physical methods of dissociation have been explored in the past.

Lasers and electromagnetic radiation have been used for fabrication and structural/functional alteration of chemical and biological materials.

Among lasers, the FIR-FEL has been studied very sparsely, although it has high penetration power and is absorbed well by biological systems.

It is also used in tissue imaging, cancer diagnostics, and biophysics studies.

This study shows for the first time that FIR-FEL is also useful for breaking down the fibril aggregate structure of proteins.

The team says FIR-FEL can be used to destroy amyloid fibrils deep inside tissues, as in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas MIR-FEL can be used for removing dermal amyloids on the surface of the skin.

Also, FIR-FEL could be used in biomaterial engineering in regenerative medicine or Nanocarrier drug-delivery systems.

One author of the study is Dr. Takayasu Kawasaki.

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

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