Scientists find new link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s

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Imagine your body as a bustling city where everything usually runs smoothly.

In this city, there are workers (proteins) that have specific jobs to keep everything functioning.

Now, think about what happens when something goes wrong, like when workers start to cluster together, causing chaos instead of doing their jobs. This scenario is similar to what happens in our bodies in certain diseases.

In the United States, a significant number of people are living with diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes. This condition develops over time and is linked to issues with insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps manage sugar levels in the body.

Besides insulin, these cells in the pancreas produce another protein called islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). In many people with type 2 diabetes, IAPP clumps together, similar to the way another protein behaves in Alzheimer’s disease, leading to brain issues.

Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that these clumps of IAPP in diabetes and protein clusters in Alzheimer’s share more similarities than previously thought.

They found that a synthetic peptide, a kind of small protein, can prevent the harmful clumps from forming in both diseases.

Valerie Daggett, a professor involved in this research, explains that both Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes are part of a group of diseases known as amyloid diseases. These diseases are characterized by proteins that, instead of doing their jobs, start to stick together.

Initially, these sticky clumps are small and toxic, causing damage to the surrounding cells. Over time, they grow into larger, less harmful structures, but the damage they’ve caused along the way can be significant.

In Alzheimer’s, these tiny toxic clumps damage brain cells, leading to memory loss and other symptoms. In type 2 diabetes, similar clumps form in the pancreas, attacking the cells that produce insulin. These toxic clumps are not picky; they can damage many types of cells.

The researchers discovered a new protein structure in these clumps, which they named “alpha sheet.”

This structure is unique to the small, toxic clusters found in amyloid diseases, including type 2 diabetes. This discovery is crucial because it opens up new paths for potential treatments.

The synthetic peptide created by the researchers is designed to target and neutralize these toxic clumps. By binding tightly to them, the peptide can prevent the clumps from causing damage, potentially offering a new way to treat or manage these diseases.

Type 2 diabetes affects a vast number of people globally, and not everyone can manage it with lifestyle changes alone.

This research offers hope for a new type of treatment that targets the disease’s underlying processes, specifically the damage caused by IAPP clumps to the pancreas.

In summary, the fight against diseases like type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s is advancing, with researchers finding innovative ways to tackle the problems at a molecular level.

This could lead to new treatments that go beyond current methods, providing hope for millions affected by these conditions.

If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about Scientists find the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease and findings of Alzheimer’s might not be primarily a brain disease. A new theory suggests it’s an autoimmune condition.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, please see recent studies about Foods that reduce Alzheimer’s risk and results showing that Scientists link dietary antioxidants to Alzheimer’s prevention.

The research findings can be found in Protein Science.

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