How A Simple Amoeba Helped Scientists Better Understand The Complexities Of Alzheimer’s

A group of researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London and the Institute of Psychiatry King’s College London have released a new study identifying a single-celled amoeba that helps them to better understand the proteins causing Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in the Journal of Cell Science, the study identified the amoeba Dictyostelium as a new way to better understand the role of presenilin proteins in Alzheimer’s. “This work on the amoeba Dictyostelium shows we can successfully use this simple model to try to better understand the normal roles of other proteins and genes in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of neurodegeneration,” Dr. Richard Killick of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London said in a press release.

Instead of testing the role of presenilin proteins in animals — which was often difficult — the scientists studied them in the amoeba. “Our data suggest that presenilin proteins perform an ancient non-proteolytic role in regulating intracellular signaling and development, and that Dictyostelium is a useful model for analyzing human presenilin function,” the authors wrote in the abstract.

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