The Answer to Treating Alzheimer’s Might be in Your Favorite Brew
Feeling hung-over? This might ease your headache.
Scientists discovered that a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease may lay in your beer can. The same structures that contribute to Alzheimer’s are also found in yeast, which is a key ingredient in beer.
Yeast cells can reproduce asexually, but have the option of reproducing sexually through special structures called spores. In a recent study published in Cell, MIT biologists discovered that yeast cells build fibrous protein clumps – known as amyloids – when they form spores.
For decades, amyloids have been a key focus in Alzheimer’s research. Scientists believe that those pesky amyloid clumps end up blocking the cell-to-cell signaling in brain synapses.
Here’s the big news: after the yeast’s spores serve their reproductive purpose, the amyloid proteins are quickly destroyed.
Berchowitz made this amyloid structure discovery while looking for sexual reproduction in yeast. Most yeast doesn’t have a preference and reproduces asexually. In spite of that, under high-stress conditions, yeast can undergo sexual reproduction through the creation of spores that fuse which then form new cells.
“Amyloids in the brain persist for decades. We just can’t get rid of them, yet yeast cells seem to have a mechanism for getting rid of them in 15 minutes,” reports Dr. Luke Berchowitz, the paper’s lead author. “If we can harness that mechanism, and really understand it, that could lead to anti-amyloid therapeutic opportunities.”
That would be something worth toasting to!