Healthy Monkeys Brains May Hold Key to Curing Alzheimer’s


Credit: Rebecca F. Rosen, National Science Foundation

Healthy Monkeys Brains May Hold Key to Curing Alzheimer’s

This Research inِ Action article wasِ providedِ to LiveScience inِ partnership withِ theِ National Science Foundation.
Under a microscope, plaques inِ the brains ofِ very oldِ monkeys canِ look remarkably similar toِ theِ plaques thatِ clinicians useِ toِ diagnose Alzheimer’s disease inِ humans.
Alzheimer’s isِ caused byِ the buildup ofِ a protein called Abeta inِ nerve cells inِ the brain, whichِ leads toِ theirِ death, severe memory loss andِ dementia.

Alzheimer’s susceptibility

The uniquely human susceptibility toِ Alzheimer’s isِ unlikely due toِ ourِ long lifespans, asِ apes andِ some monkeys canِ live 40 toِ 60 years.
We canِ study theseِ animals toِ seeِ what itِ isِ aboutِ their brains thatِ prevent theِ Abeta protein fromِ killing nerve cells.
In Lary Walker’s lab atِ the Yerkes National Primate Research Center inِ Atlanta, Ga., Rebecca Rosen, currentlyِ a AAAS Fellow atِ the National Science Foundation, looked atِ the brains ofِ aged monkeys andِ apes andِ found manyِ similarities toِ brains fromِ Alzheimer’s patients.

Monkey v. human

She foundِ one exciting difference.
She ran a set ofِ experiments withِ a newِ chemical beingِ used toِ diagnose Alzheimer’s inِ living human patients.
According toِ thisِ study byِ Rosen andِ her colleagues, theِ chemical didn’tِ stick toِ Abeta lesions inِ the brains ofِ apes orِ monkeys.